We meet Vanya and Sonia in their morning room, which overlooks the pond. We are in America, and they wait for the daily appearance of the blue heron.
Named by parents who loved Chekhov, they wait in their stagnant routine for a visit from their sister Masha – a Hollywood movie star. She seems to have it all: fame, money, romance, and a young boyfriend in tow.
Spike was almost cast in Entourage 2. He is vain, rude, and atractive (“except for his personality”). As the first act builds to a costume party we don’t see, via doom-laded prophecies from cleaner Cassandra, we get the measure of these three siblings and their shared ennui and unhappiness.
Christopher Durang’s play is witty and inventive, and boasts three excellent performances from Michael Maloney, Rebecca Lacey, and Janie Dee, who effortlessly balance the comic and tense aspects of their characters. These are richly written roles, beautifully brought to life. Maloney’s monologue for Vanya is exceptional.
Charlie Maher’s Spike is totally over the top, and occasionally threatens to disturb the equilibrium of the piece, but he is certainly fun throughout. As Cassandra, Sara Powell makes the most of a handful of scenes, while Lukwesa Mwamba’s literal ‘girl next door’ is sweet and empathetic.
This is a clever and entertaining play which never flags. It is chock-full of Chekhov references and boasts a satisfying conclusion by the end, showing family wins out over other considerations – at least in this case.
Directed by Walter Bobbie and designed by David Korins (set), Justin Townsend (lighting), and Mark Bennett (sound), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a fine revival which will leave you wanting more. Bravo!
Image credit: Marc Brenner