Las Vegas Review-Journal - December 15, 1999

'POONA' pulls out all the stops

By Carolyn Wardle
Special to the Review-Journal

      "POONA ... A Morality Play for Adult Children" is not for the easily offended. But if you like satirical social commentary that never pulls punches, you'll enjoy the refreshing scamper Jeff Goode takes through modern-day mores and social customs.
      Our Backs to the Wall Players present the work as a lively caprice where the actors bounce from skit to skit and character to character; skewering sexual attitudes, the silent majority, hero worship, television and anything else Goode enjoys poking. Nothing is sacred.
      But the work is not mean-spirited. It is simply irreverent. And the actors keep it fun. Thomas Turner, who plays Fairy God Phallus, portrays this male member with an innate joy that makes his juicy twang and innocent pleasures delightfully alluring.
      Brian Anderson is the cerebral Rabbit who lacks both the dashing appearance and social station of the Handsome Prince (also played by Turner). But high moral values are not enough for this character, and Anderson lets us see the defeat and the resulting consequences with shared clarity. Everyone has been a rabbit at some time.
      And then there is Poona, played to great effect by Jocelyn Pryde Hughes. She is cheerful, innocent, sweet, eager to please -- all the qualities admired in the female gender. Things really step up for her when she is given a magic box. The Handsome Prince comes around a lot. The Rabbit does, too.
      Goode used this situation to make some well-placed jabs at gender attitudes, both male and female. He also has much to say about the role of television in contemporary culture.
      Joey Durso plays the television who becomes king and helps her subjects forget about the fearsome dragon by her creative programming. The Man Who Could Sell Anything (Douglas Hill), a shrub (Adam Hamilton), aliens (Hill and Cathy Clagett) and a storyteller (Bobby Rodgers) all flit in and out of the presentation, putting kinks in the TV's plan and delivering more of Goode's telling commentary.
      L.B. Hamilton directs this farcical romp with fine artistic skill. The work sparkles, careens and punctures with a lively pace and fanciful portrayals. And Our Backs to the Wall Players show that allegory doesn't have to be conservatively reserved to make a viable point.
      What: "POONA ... A Morality Tale for Adult Children"
      When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
      Where: Planet Mirth, 5115 S. Industrial Road
      Rating: B+
      Tickets: $10

Wednesday, December 15, 1999
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