POONA THE FUCKDOG AND OTHER PLAYS FOR CHILDREN, Trap Door Theatre. Jeff Goode’s most frequently produced play in Chicago is The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, a witty anti-Christmas show. Poona the Fuckdog takes a similar approach–only here Goode’s deconstructing children’s theater. The show is purportedly a series of fairy tales dramatized for children, but from the beginning it goes awry. For one thing, the cuddly pooch around whom most of the stories are structured, Poona, turns out to be a precocious, sexually active girl dog. Goode takes even the most innocent of childhood images–such as a large toy box–and gives it a sleazy meaning, as Poona repeatedly invites her lovers to play with her in her pink box. Goode even subverts his own soap-operalike tale by introducing characters lifted from other fairy tales (fire-breathing dragons, a whole kingdom of unhappy folk) and TV land (aliens, even a power-mad television set).

The result is sometimes clever, sometimes just plain stupid, one minute skewering TV for dumbing us all down and the next indulging in the same mind-numbing sitcom silliness. Goode leans a bit too heavily on speaking the unspeakable–one of the aliens is named Cunt–but in the end you have to like a show this complex and fast paced that never flies into chaos. Director Cheryl Snodgrass and a cast of fine comic actors deserve credit as well.

–Jack Helbig