Megan Mraz and Bailey Lomax in “Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls” | Photo by Bill Brymer

My excitement for Theatre [502]‘s seventh season opener, “The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls,” started before the first actor hit the stage. Director Amy Attaway told me in advance the play has a rare all-woman cast, director and design staff (save one).

And when I opened the program (whose cover, by Erik Underwood, is hang-it-on-your-wall gorgeous), I realized that all but one of the cast of women is brand new to the Theatre [502] stage.

Annie/Anya is a young American-raised woman (actor Bailey Lomax is just out of high school and Walden) who has come to Russia to visit a relative and learn Russian business. She is doe-eyed and naive, but brave and adventurous as well. Her journey teams her with three other women who encounter traditional Russian fairytale tropes (some considered “forbidden”) — witches, bears, evil czars, Soviet holdovers and modern Russian issues.

Anya is to stay with her mother’s old friend Yaroslava (Carol Tyree Williams), who shapeshifts between a crotchety old babushka at odds with the new Russia to the fabled Baba Yaga, the legendary witch who flies around looking for little girls to roast and eat.

It’s a lot to take in, and it moves very fast. At the end, the play spun out a bit and lost me at times. But that seems to be inherent in the script, not in the performances or direction.

Carol Tyree Williams | Photo by Bill Brymer

Lomax is quite good, and I hope we see more of her on Louisville stages. Chasidy Moore commands the stage as the stylish, modern Russian femme fatal.

Brigit Thesing’s Katya is a fantastic storyteller; she is intent on marrying a czar, but make no mistake, this isn’t a princess’ fairytale she’s seeking.

None of these women need to be saved by men, no matter what perils they face. Not even the “other Katya,” called “Nastya,” played by Megan Mraz, who has turned to prostitution by choice.

The intimacy of the Kentucky Center’s MeX Theater serves this play, which relies a lot on monologues and tight spaces, and the scenic design by Hannah Allgeier was versatile and well-used.

At times, Theatre [502] has felt a bit like a company, with familiar faces — fabulous actors for sure — popping up again and again. To see all these new-to-[502] women on stage in a deeply feminist play was a delight.

Playwright Meg Miroshnik won the 2012 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition for the play while she was earning her master’s degree at Yale.

The play continues through Sunday, Oct. 22. Showtimes are 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $18 in advance, or $23 at the door.

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