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Review: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Castle Craig Players

The production runs now through May 22nd.

Review: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Castle Craig Players

On Friday, May 13th, I saw a play that I was not familiar with: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE was performed by the Castle Craig Players at the Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse in Meriden, CT. This is a modern play written by controversial playwright Christopher Durang. The genres encompassed include dark drama, dark comedy, and political rant. The audience reactions throughout the show suggested that they truly enjoyed the show. While the show certainly has comedic elements, I feel that this show can be best appreciated if audience members come to the show expecting to see what is more of a dark and twisted drama than a comedy.

The story is set in a house where middle-aged Vanya (Mike Zizka) and his slightly younger adopted sister, Sonia (Barbara Gallow), live. They initially come across as a married couple having a petty argument, until it is revealed that they are siblings, although Sonia is adopted. The show is soon stolen by their eccentric housekeeper, Cassandra (Lisa Carroll), a character who deliberately comes across as a psychotic psychic, predicting bad things with a Shakespearean influence. Lisa Carroll has a stage presence and style of delivery that magnifies the quality of every line she speaks.

The house is owned by Masha (Adrianne Giammatteo), who, in her early forties, is the younger sister of Vanya and Sonia. Masha is an actress who made money to support her older siblings in place of their parents, who had died. Masha's plans to sell the house upset Vanya and Sonia. Masha comes to the house with a much younger boyfriend, Spike (Stephen Koehler.) She is very self-absorbed and condescending, which ultimately masquerades her deep feelings of inadequacy.

Spike likes stripping down to his underwear and showing off. He goes swimming in a pond where he meets Nina (Elisa Albert). Nina is an aspiring young actress who is a huge fan of Masha, and is clearly star struck upon meeting her. A convincing fangirl performance was given by Elisa Albert. Masha, however, feels romantically threatened by Nina, believing Nina's youth gives her the potential to steal Spike away.

It is ironic that the most fascinating two characters of this six character show are the only two characters whose names are not in the title. Vanya gives a political rant towards the end of the show. Interestingly enough, since it primarily targets technology, not too many people will be inflamed by what he says, other than some unkind words about Lindsay Lohan and a contextual misrepresentation of a decision made by Walt Disney.

Will any of Cassandra's predictions come true? Will Nina steal Spike away from Masha? Will Masha sell the house that Vanya and Sonia live in? Come to the show to find out. This show is for mature audiences only, due to language and some serious and potentially sensitive topics. VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE is scheduled to run through May 22, 2022. For times and tickets, please go to https://castlecraigplayers.org/tickets/.



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