One of the most audacious productions at this year’s Fringe Festival is not a site specific work or a bizarre blend of disciplines. Instead, it is a staging of an iconic play in a conventional theater. Nevertheless, EgoPo Classic Theater’s season opening production of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is daring because it puts the entire play in the hands of a child. Normally performed with a cast of at least five, director Brenna Geffers’ bold production relies on the talent of 14-year-old actress Mackenzie Maula. Already a Barrymore Award nominee for her performance in Walnut Street Theatre’s revival of Fiddler on a Roof, Maula’s age is fitting for a drama about a woman, Nora, who is treated both as a child and a doll to play with by her husband, Torvald.
Smartly directed by Brenda Geffers and wittily adapted with a streamlined text, the production introduces Maula as a young girl imagining what life will be like as an adult. Using dolls to represent the characters in Ibsen’s drama—Nora is Barbie, Torvald is Ken, and the evil Krogstad is represented by a Darth Vader action figure—Maula has an engaging playfulness, but the production doesn’t fully realize some of its darker elements. That said, Maula is clearly a promising young actress, and in its most potent scenes, Geffers’ production raises a number of troubling concerns about the many challenges faced by teenage girls in a society that remains obsessed with physical beauty.
Through Sunday, Sept. 22. $15-$25. The PlayGround at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St. fringearts.com
The Barrymore Awards aren’t ballyhoo