Vanya and sonia and masha and spike reviews
Victoria’s review of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ at Lincoln Center
In this it has a long pedigree, including much of Woody Allen and all of Neil Simon; the play actually quotes the latter, making liberal use of a character from California Suite. Durang himself has said he took Chekhovian characters and tropes and put them in a blender. The three siblings not sisters; see what he did there? They speak in stilted style, which, while probably designed to evoke Chekhov, actually produces the opposite effect. The characters seem one-dimensional — Vanya is repressed, Sonia is depressed, Masha is insecure, Spike is narcissistic, and Nina is sweet. The best parts of the play are the bits that have nothing to do with Chekhov.
The story has high entertainment value for the target audience, the increasingly large pool of aging baby boomers. It is about three siblings grappling with growing old and becoming irrelevant. Playwright Christopher Durang uses Anton Chekov as his muse. Durang keeps the tragedies manageable. He never lets us get bogged down in gloom.
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The feeling that life is passing us by begins early and intensifies with the years. Southern California first saw the play in a terrifically funny and tender staging at the Mark Taper Forum in that featured key players from the best-play Tony-winning Broadway production.
Not exactly buy one, get one free. Vanya, Sonia and Masha were all named after Chekhov characters by their theatre-loving parents, with Spike the only outsider although his real name happens to be Vlad. Masha, played as thoughtlessly narcissistic yet also vulnerable by the splendid Janie Dee, is a famous film star no longer in her prime, who has returned with toy boy Spike to their Pennsylvania farmhouse to rescue her finances by selling it off. Director Walter Bobbie, a Tony-award winner himself for the Broadway revival of Chicago, marries the broadly comic satire with the inevitable Chekhovian cloak of self-pity. There are large servings of theatrical in-jokes, but ample madcap activity as well, and a moving moment of longing from Vanya for the simple life of old.