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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Now Playing: "The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls"

Posted by on Sun, Oct 7, 2012 at 12:11 PM

A sharp travel-horror play by LA-based writer Meg Miroshnik, The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls follows a young American woman of Russian extraction (Annie, played by a sprightly and doe-eyed Samie Spring Detzer) who travels to Moscow and gets tangled in a world somewhere between Russian fairytales and the sex, drugs, and clubs of contemporary young Muscovites.

Annie's host mother is a witch, the woman across the hallway has a drunk bear for a boyfriend, and Annie's fairy godmother turns out to be an arch prostitute (Nastya, played with deep, sinister grace by Leah Pfenning) who the other young women in the play agree is "one tough cunt." Nastya is the one with access to rich men, axes, and the other implements of destruction that bring Russian Girls to its delightfully dark conclusion. (Things end happily ever after, but a few men and monsters have to die first.)

This production at Washington Ensemble Theater, directed by Ali el-Gasseir, mixes well-grounded performances, shadow puppetry, and lo-fi theater tricks (footlights to make everyone's faces look noir-ish, for example) to create an atmosphere of gloomy paranoia, punctuated with unexpected comedy. The production doesn't have all of the fireworks and special effects that the script allows for—Russian Girls would make a hell of a Guillermo del Toro movie—but it tells this jagged and suspenseful story about women in a darkly magical version of Moscow with energy and ballast.

Playing Thurs–Mon. Through Oct 22.


Comments (5) RSS

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TVDinner 1
"Doe-eyed?" Gag me.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on October 7, 2012 at 12:20 PM · Report this
Saw it Friday night - it's brilliant. Well done.
Posted by tshicks on October 7, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
Nevertheless, it's an apt description @1. Detzer's character exudes a naive, deer-caught-in-the-headlights quality, particularly in the early stages of the play, while she's trying to come to terms with a Moscow where real-world economic destabilization and sexual politics co-exist with traditional Russian fairytale archtypes.

Think of it as a Russian version of "Buffy" or "Grimm", with it's own unique gallery of Big Bads, and you should get the idea.
Posted by COMTE on October 7, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
TVDinner 4
I suppose I should just be grateful it wasn't "gamine eyed." Sigh.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on October 7, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 5
This photograph makes me very happy and makes my pants very, very tight.

And I can go this thing you speak of called a "play", and I can see these women? OK!
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 7, 2012 at 11:34 PM · Report this

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