POND 7–TALES FROM THE DEEP END, Fantod Theatre, at Strawdog Theatre Company. There’s no shame in being young. Nor is there shame in creating imperfect work. To paraphrase Natalie Goldberg’s observation in Writing Down the Bones, every writer has to put out a certain amount of crap before he finds his voice.

But when an artist displays his work too early or can’t tell the crap from the good stuff, that’s a problem. Each story and poem in Guy J. Jackson’s evening of monologues has its effective moments: an arresting image here, a nice turn of phrase there. But no piece is strong enough to hold our attention from start to finish. Even his shorter pieces overstay their welcome, filled as they are with commonplace descriptions of dime-a-dozen feelings of lust and urban angst. And the stories that come close to being pretty good, such as Jackson’s portrait of a simpleminded barfly, lose their force as he piles on one unbelievable plot twist after another.

Jackson does himself no favors by performing his own material. As a writer he has some potential, but as an actor he’s extremely rough, offering a goofy puppy dog performance. Kristin Larson receives credit in the program as director, but if I were Larson I’d ask to have my name stricken from the bill.

–Jack Helbig