The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls

This enchanting little tchotchke melds magic and mayhem in post-Soviet Russia, commingling centuries-old folklore with the crass new Putin era. In a haze of flesh-meets-fantasy, young playwright Meg Miroshnik envisions a culture awash in booze, privation, and misogyny. Her fable begins in 2005 as Annie (Samie Spring Detzer), a Russian ingenue raised in L.A., returns to her birthplace with plans to lose her American accent and maybe pick up a few professional contacts. Her mother has set her up with a place to stay—with an "auntie" who is no blood relative but just might be a bloodthirsty witch. Along the way, Annie meets a variety of alternately chilly and needy Russian women who troll the nightclubs for vodka, men, and money. It's an ensemble piece, with several of the all-female cast pulling double duty in multiple roles. Under the direction of Ali el-Gasseir, there's nary a Russian accent out of place. Moving scrims redirect the action from one locale to another, until their spinning takes on a hypnotic effect and, like Annie, you're left wondering what's real and what's imagined. Fairytale Lives is an Alice in Wonderland-style tumble down the rabbit hole. Cast into a dangerous and bewildering unknown, an innocent must forge new alliances and become the agent of her own salvation. KEVIN PHINNEY

Mondays, Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Sept. 27. Continues through Oct. 27, 2012

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