Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Review-Madcap Comedy Soars

 

According to playwright Christopher Durang, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play, is not meant to be viewed as a Chekhov parody. Instead, he has explained, “I take Chekhov scenes and characters and put them into a blender.”  The play that emerges from that blender mixes characters drawn from Chekhov and famous Greek plays with contemporary stereotypes and it is charming, zany and often hilarious.

 

Michael Degrotta, Marcie Hall, Josh Matheney and Dr. Ann Patrice Casale. photo:Delray Beach Playhouse.

Middle-aged siblings Sonia and her brother Vanya live in the lovely rural Pennsylvania house in which they grew up and nursed their now deceased parents. Fifteen years after their parents’ death, the siblings have not done much except for lamenting their small lives. Their narcissistic sister, Masha, though, has been quite busy becoming a famous actress and getting married and divorced five times. Her career has enabled her to pay for her late parents’ care and for Sonia and Vanya’s expenses.  When Masha comes to visit them with Spike, her young stud of a boyfriend, and informs Vanya and Sonia that she intends to sell their home, the resentment and longing of each of the siblings is on full display.  Adding to the emotionally charged mix are Cassandra, brazen household maid and semi-successful soothsayer as well as the young and coy, Nina, aspiring actress who worships Masha and happens to be visiting the neighborhood. Throw in a costume party for added fun as well as a vehicle for the actors to display certain aspects of their personalities.

 

Michael Degrotta, Marcie Hall, Danielle Tabino, Dr. Anne Patrice Casale. photo:Delray Beach Playhouse.

Sonia, beautifully portrayed by Marcie Hall, is both heartwarmingly vulnerable and annoyingly spiteful. Presented as initially frumpy and self-pitying, her costume party transformation and Maggie Smith impersonation are brilliant. Her phone call from a prospective date is unforgettable. Michael Degrotta presents perfectly timed low key comic amusement at the goings-on around him until he erupts into a hilarious diatribe against modern culture. His meltdown is magnificent. Dr. Ann Patrice Casale, captures the extreme vanity and self- involvement that defines Masha, with just the right undertones of fear and desperation as she senses the inevitable consequences of aging in both her professional and personal life. Vicki Klein is hysterically funny as Cassandra and Danielle Tabino skillfully portrays Nina as the visiting ingénue. Josh Matheney’s barely dressed Spike is adorable and endearing even as he embodies shameless flirting behavior.

Whether or not you are familiar with Chekhov, there is much to savor in this wonderful play. Don’t miss this brilliant and biting comedy!

 

Michael Degrotta, Marcie Hall, Josh Matheney and Dr. Ann Patrice Casale. photo:Delray Beach Playhouse.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike runs at the Delray Beach Playhouse through June 4, 2017. Tickets are $30 ($15 for students 18 and younger) and can be purchased by calling 561 271-1281 Ext.4. The Playhouse is located at: 950 NW 9th Street, Delray Beach, Florida 33444.

 

Sign points the way to the lovely Delray Beach Playhouse on Lake Ida. photo:W.Bogard.

 

Delray Beach Playhouse website

 

 

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