As you enter Redrum at Fort Fringe to see 1UP Theatre’s Saving Private Poo—a violent smashing-together of the film Saving Private Ryan and A.A. Milne’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh characters—you’ll hear mash-ups of pop songs playing from the speakers. This will be your first clue that what you’re about to witness will be a production full of wit and humor that’s flecked with moments of surprisingly genuine emotion.
First, let’s set the scene: Captain Christopher Robinson leads a band of battle-ready stuffed animals through the Nazi-occupied One Hundred Acre Wood… France. Their mission is to rescue Poo Bear (yes, all of these names are wryly copyright-proofed), who got lost while navigating his hot air balloon through enemy territory. Along the way, they encounter Nazis, snipers, and their own in-group tensions.
Overall, the show itself is hilarious, especially when it’s most committed to its outlandish premise. There’s no irony or tongue-in-cheek breaking of the fourth wall here, which makes the experience of watching the piece more fun and immersive for the audience.
Some of the jokes are a little trite and predictable (generally surrounding the Nazi characters, whose version of speaking German includes saying words like “Autobahn” and “Volkswagen” repeatedly), but overall, the inherent humor of having well-known children’s figures react in their characteristic way to the horrors of WWII is enough to produce belly-laughs.
Saving Private Poo
by Steve Custer and Ian Hoch
at Redrum – Fort Fringe
610 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Details and tickets
To 1UP Theatre’s credit, the 50-minute production is kept from being totally one-note. Milne’s almost painfully earnest bon mots are quoted by Poo Bear (David Benji Weiner), and a particularly heart-breaking scene involving Kanga (Ashley Hall) and Rue (Melanie Kurstin) remind the audience that one half of the source material is actually a life-and-death wartime drama.
Saving Private Poo gleefully embraces the anything-goes ethos of the Fringe Festival, and if you’re looking for a lighthearted break from the stifling July heat (and the festival’s many Greek tragedy and Shakespeare reimaginings), there are few better ways to escape reality for nearly an hour.