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Winnie-the-Pooh and The Seven Deadly Sins, at Rage of the Stage

Despite the juvenile blasphemy and vulgarity, playwright Shoberg reveals a real fondness for the books and the personalities within.



Being of the female persuasion, I had no childhood truck with Winnie-the-Pooh and his persnickety pals, opting for the adventures of the logophilic Alice and maleficacidal Dorothy. The Disneyfication (and subsequent de-hyphenization, commercialization and exploitation) of A.A. Milne's original characters didn't help. So it's with some surprise that I find the Rage of the Stage Players' production of Winnie-the-Pooh and The Seven Deadly Sins rather warm and fuzzy — well, by the standards of playwright and company director James Michael Shoberg. 

Here, Christopher Robin, Milne's real-life son and fictional hero of the Pooh (poo?) stories, is a modern (or at least American and Catholic) teen-ager, which means lots of juvenile blasphemy and vulgarity a la ROTS. But Shoberg reveals a real fondness for the books and the core of the personalities within. The idea of matching the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood with the seven deadly sins has knocked around discussion groups and the Web for a while. (Winnie is just so temptingly Gluttony.) But the play is less concerned with identifying specific characters with certain vices than with simply imagining them as older and none the wiser.

Sure, Tigger (lustily played by Scott Vickinovac) is more than a little randy, no surprise for a teen-age cat. But the melancholic Eeyore (a charming bit of self-loathing by Sean Michael Gallaher) is no sloth. There's nothing the least bit envious about Carrie L. Shoberg's perky porcine Piglet, and it's unfair to equate Adrienne Fischer's much-put-upon Rabbit with greed. David J. Fielding does the pompous Owl proud, but there's no sin in that. 

The overbearing (sorry) Joseph A. Roots plays Pooh with a heart of gold underneath the eating disorder. Vincent Anthony Bombara (what is it with all these triple names?) and Kira McManus complete the Milne ménage as Roo and Kanga, respectively. The "villains" are more fun: slick-talking Jen James as the Heffalump and Shoberg himself as the mad and maddening Woozle. Also multi-tasking, Ms. Shoberg has created costumes that are more than a match for hubby's wordplay.

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