FringeArts Review: EgoPo’s A Doll’s House

It's hard writing a bad review of a show starring a 14-year-old.

Oh dear… Oh dear… Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

It’s all I could think to myself on Friday night as I was walking out of the Playground at the Adrienne, where I had just seen EgoPo’s FringeArts production A Doll’s House, starring 14-year-old Mackenzie Maula.

My concern came from two places.

First, I was thinking: Where the hell am I going to have dinner?.

It was after 9 p.m., and all I had consumed since lunch was the whiskey punch and cheese curls offered for free at The Renegade Company’s 6 p.m. Bathtub Moby-Dick (go here to read my review of that show, which features a naked guy in a bathtub reading Moby-Dick ) and a small bag of popcorn and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon I purchased (well, technically, the PBR required a $3 ” suggested donation” — gotta keep things legal in this PLCB police state) in the lobby of the Adrienne prior to the show.

And I didn’t have too much time before I had to get down to South Philly again for Saint Joan, Betrayed. Shake Shack was mere steps away, but I’m so over Shake Shack.

But the main reason that I was worried was that I went to the Adrienne to review A Doll’s House, and it was pretty obvious to me that I couldn’t possibly give it a good review. I couldn’t wait to get out of the theater.

Oh, it’s not that I have a problem being honest about my opinion or writing a bad review, but, well, this show stars a 14-year-old, a young woman at the start of her career. A 14-year-old who looks like she’s 14, not 14 going on 21.

I mean, just watch this homemade video of her singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Mis. Your heart kind of melts, flat notes and all.

But then I realized: it’s not her fault.

Oh, Maula wasn’t fantastic by any means. She missed some cues. She flubbed some lines. At times, she had trouble connecting with the audience. But for her age, she was good and certainly shows potential.

Let’s keep in mind: this was a one-(young)-woman show, and the room was filled to capacity. The pressure was on. I look forward to seeing what she brings to the festival next year, assuming her high school schedule allows for it. (Maula’s mom had told me that she was going to be missing the first full week of her freshman year in high school in order to participate in EgoPo’s production.)

As for the show itself, it’s based on Henrik Ibsen’s 19th Century classic by the same name but includes some modern twists like allusions to Desperate Housewives, an appearance by Darth Vader, and the implementation of an on-stage iPad. But none of that does anything to make it seem relevant or entertaining.

One of my friends who saw it says, “It could’ve used some dramaturgy… the ideas weren’t as fleshed out as they should be.”

You think? My friend was putting it mildly.

It seemed to me that what I was looking at was a work-in-progress, the kind of thing you get invited to by a friend who is tossing some ideas around on the stage and needs an honest opinion from someone he trusts.

EgoPo’s A Doll’s House was not fit for public consumption. And I would hasten to guess that many in the audience felt the same way that I did. Their failure to laugh at what should have been funny moments and their lukewarm (that’s generous) response at the end of the performance would seem to indicate as much.

Fortunately, A Doll’s House runs all the way through the end of FringeArts, September 22nd. Hopefully, EgoPo will have the wherewithal to salvage the show and not waste Maula’s commitment, dedication and potential.

Through September 22nd
Tickets: $15 to $25

Other FringeArts Reviews By Victor Fiorillo
Gunnar Montana’s Basement Is Some Crazy Shit
My Kids Liked “Everything” About A Mystery?
Naked Man! Bathtub! Point Breeze!
Joan of Arc, Betrayed: What the Fringe Should Be