“As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh. A mashup of Saving Private Ryan and Winnie the Pooh may not seem like the obvious choice but in 1UP Theatre’s production, Saving Private Poo, it works surprisingly well, by turns both hilarious and heartbreaking.
Steve Custer and Ian Hoch’s script follows Private Poo as his balloon crashlands behind enemy lines. Honey Company, led by Captain Christopher Robin, sets out to rescue their beloved friend. The absurdity of this provides lots of situational laughs but 1Up doesn’t shy away from brutality either. The atrocities of war seem even more horrific inflicted upon these cherished playthings, uncomprehendingly defending themselves with popguns and water pistols.
Saving Private Poo hits all the familiar story points and the cast all nail the trademark traits of their iconic roles. Adam R. Adkins as the hopeless Eeee-Ooorr loses his tail in a scene that made me guffaw and thanks everyone for noticing him in a scene that made me gasp. Ashley Hall as the cautious Kanga and Melanie Kurstin as the restless Rue provide some heavy duty tugging of heartstrings when Kanga loses her child. As Poo, David Benji Weiner’s eyes light up at the mention of honey. Devin Gaither is the impatient Rabbit. Lauren Kuhn the frightened Piglet, Robert King the know-it-all Owl and Russel Silber and Steve Custer play a couple of Nazis, nonsensically (but with deep significance) spouting random German words. Of special note are Ian Hoch as the lisping, perpetually bouncing Tiger and Matt Baughman as Captain Christopher Robin, one minute evoking Brad Pitt’s hardened soldier in Inglourious Basterds, then, with a doffing of his military cap, an imaginative, British eight-year-old who would do anything for his prize bear.
The script is liberally sprinkled with A. A. Milne’s sweet, gentle truisms, used effectively to highlight the humor or heartbreak of each scene. Saving Private Poo is a grand adventure indeed and like its source material, will surprise you with its simple lessons about holding on to friendship and innocence for as long as we can.
Running Time: 50 minutes.
Saving Private Poo playing through July 27, 2014 at Redrum at Fort Fringe-610 L Street NW, in Washington, DC. For information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.