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Review: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Theatre Harrisburg

Now through June 19 at the Krevsky Center

Review: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Theatre Harrisburg

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is about the longing for the past, a fear of the future, and regret for a wasted life. While those themes might seem heavy and depressing, Playwright, Christopher Durang embeds them in a story that is both funny and poignant

Darren Riddle and Beth Mcintosh are Vanya and Sonia, respectively. These middle-aged siblings share a a Pennsylvania house, a passion for Wawa coffee and not much else. They spent their entire adults lives taking care of their infirmed parents. By the time the parents have passed away, the duo realize they have nothing to show for their time and efforts.

Riddle does a great job in his portrayal of Vanya as the voice of reason in the show. He reacts to the insanity around him with a sense of calm. That is, until his passioned Act 2 diatribe, which is full of emotion and frustration regarding "the good old days". Riddle connected well with his audience, especially the senior citizen next to me, nodding along to his pining for Annette Funicello and Howdy Doody.

Mcintosh is charming as the sweet, but naïve Sonia (she'd probably feel right at home in Saint Olaf). McInosh plays, probably, the most dynamic of all the characters as she comes out of her shell and into her own. The audience supports her every step of the way.

Diane Bateman plays the third sibling, Masha. Masha is a successful, Hollywood actress, a little bit past her prime (think Demi Moore). When she shows up for a visit with her new boy-toy, Spike, things go a little crazy. Bateman is forceful and confident. Her bossiness and brashness lead to some very funny moments. One thing that didn't work for me was the Masha's wig. It didn't seem to be a good match for a character steeped in vanity and fixated on her looks.

Ryan Dean Schoening is featured as Spike, Masha's dumb, but dutiful "flavor of the month". While Schoening didn't particularly resemble the "Ashton Kutcher-type", they did make the part their own. Schoening cracked me up demonstrating Spike's "Entourage 2" audition.

Beyond the four title characters, Gerren Wagner and Aleax Olivera are great ensemble players. Wagner plays Cassandra, the kooky, psychic housekeeper and Olivera is Nina a cute, young neighbor. Both actresses blend into their roles effortlessly.

Director, Matt Spencer keeps the action going and scenic designer, Brydon Lidle created a detailed and attractive set. Andrea Stephenson perfects the act of plate spinning as the production's stage manager.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is an enjoyable night of entertainment. Contrary to the show's title, knowledge of Anton Chekov is not necessary to enjoy the show. It runs now through June 19th at Krevsky Center in Harrisburg.

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From This Author - Rich Mehrenberg