Vanya and Sonia and Masha and SpikePosted: June 25, 2013
Okay, before I start this review, a bit of a disclaimer. As some of you may have noticed, my posts have been trending toward the positive. Do not fret! I do in fact dislike some shows – quite a few actually. I’ve been on this incredible winning streak of seeing some really great work. But you can still take me seriously, I promise; I’m very, very critical.
That being said: oh my god, this show is so good.
It’s funny; I had completely ignored this play’s existence when it was up at Lincoln Center. I feel like most of New York was ignoring it or rather, no one in my circles was talking about it. Then it hit Broadway and started being showered with awards. I knew I wanted to check it out before the Tony Awards so I did the youth rush a couple weeks back.
Set in Bucks County, the story focuses on half-siblings Vanya (David Hyde Pierce) and Sonia (Kristine Nielson), named by their parents after Chekhov characters. These two pretty much never leave the house. They stay put day in and day out, lonely and in a permanent state of tedium it seems, only slightly thrown off-kilter by their prophetic, outspoken maid, Cassandra (Shalita Grant). But everything is upended when their movie star sister, Masha (Sigourney Weaver), drops in for an unexpected visit with her new boytoy, Spike (Billy Magnussen). Hilarity ensues from the first moments, ranging from physical comedy and sight gags to endless amounts of witty dialogue: “If everyone took antidepressants, Chekhov would have had nothing to write about.”
The small cast of six (four of whom were Tony nominees) are all stand-outs. Every character gets the opportunity to shine. If you want to catch Sigourney Weaver before she leaves the show, her last performance is July 28th and then Julie White (one of my favorite actresses) will take over through the August 25th closing.
Surprisingly, this was Christopher Durang’s first Tony win for his work (the production won for Best Play this season). Known for his absurd comedy, there’s no letting us down here. Durang creates a world that is not quite reality but at the same time is all too real and relatable. Yes, there are Chekhov references. No, you do not need to know his plays to enjoy the show, although it is fun to get the inside jokes. I went with a friend who is not a “theatre-person,” and she loved it just as much as I did. My cheeks hurt from laughing so much. One second I was smiling à la Old Hats and the next moment I was crying. Kristine Nielson is just glorious.
Okay, that’s all I’m going to say. I honestly don’t want to mention anything else that happens. Again, although many of my reviews have been positive, there have only been a few that said Don’t-Miss-It. This is one of them.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Written by Christopher Durang, Directed by Nicholas Martin
John Golden Theatre
Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg
Pictured: David Hyde Pierce and Sigourney Weaver