Show Business Weekly - December 15, 1999

Poona the What?
Poona the Fuckdog And Other Plays For Children
Written by Jeff Goode
Directed by Jeremy Dobrish
Adobe Theatre Company
At the Ohio Theatre
Review by Scott & Barbara Siegel

Poona the Fuckdog. The title doesn’t merely pique one’s interest. In this era of outrageous excess, Poona the Fuckdog is a title that hits you at Mock Speed, breaking the laugh barrier the moment you hear it. And the subtitle, "And Other Plays For Children," seals the deal.

As soon as we heard the name we had to find out if the play could even remotely live up to its challenging title. Miraculously, it does! Very much in the Adobe Theatre Company’s radically whimsical tradition of Duet! and The Handless Maiden, Poona the Fuckdog (okay, we just like writing it) is essentially a series of loosely connected sketches in a fairytale vein. Like an early Marx Brothers movie, the comedy comes from any, and every direction, and it’s just as nutty.

What’s a fuckdog? Dunno. But in the main thread of the evening’s entertainment, Poona (the endearing Erin Quinn Purcell) is a lonely, friendless fuckdog who yearns for companionship. It appears that her wildest dreams will come true when her fairy god penis (a sly Rob Newton) gives her the gift of sex in the symbolic image of a huge gift box with a mysterious game inside. She’s warned that the box might not bring her the happiness she hopes for, but it does turn into a mighty big attraction in the forest. Even a short, dark, and handsome prince (the impressive Peter Dinklage) comes to play in her box but otherwise rejects Poona. At least he rejects her until she finally rejects him. But that’s another story. Literally.

One fairytale after another unfolds, each one moving the story forward while reinventing events and taking Poona in wonderfully unlikely directions. For instance, she wins a Heisman Trophy, suffers a career-ending injury, and with the help of The Man Who Can Sell Anything (Jay Rosenbloom who sells his performance), becomes a celebrity spokesperson. There’s God, a dragon, an acting shrub (Arthur Aulisi in a scene-stealing tour de force), and a woebegone frog (a deliciously deadpan Arthur Halpern). There is also a narrator with attitude (wonderfully essayed by Vin Knight). The show even has a big, show-stopping musical number, words and music supplied by the multi-talented Michael Garin.

Director Jeremy Dobrish keeps the nonsense spinning with speed and wit. Under his tutelage, the Adobe’s shoestring set and costume budgets are turned into assets with the most outrageously original creations this side of the late Howard Crabtree. Matthew Maraffi (set design) and Bernard Grenier (costume design) create comic magic with wood, paint, and fabric.

Poona the Fuckdog may not be for everyone, but chances are that if you laugh at the title, you’re going to love the show.