The Chekhov inspired VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE opened this weekend at the ever-so-charming Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre under the direction of Ron Gural. Written by Christopher Durang, the story revolves around three middle-aged siblings who tend to get under each other's skin. Vanya (the gay brother) and Sonia (the adopted sister), as we are reminded ad nauseam, have been living together and taking care of their elderly parents until they passed and "have not lived." Neither have jobs, and both are unsatisfied with the way their lives have turned out. Their younger and overly dramatic, self-absorbed sister Masha (the movie star) has been paying for the house that they live in as well as all of their other bills relieving them from the need of finding jobs.

When the show opens, Vanya and Sonia are enjoying a relatively peaceful morning, and their fortune-telling housekeeper Cassandra pays a visit. All is calm until they receive a somewhat unexpected visit from Masha and her much younger, and hysterically juvenile (and constantly undressed) boyfriend Spike. Chaos ensues, arguments are had, dwarf costumes are worn, rants are made, and a little Voodoo is practiced. Throw in an actress wannabe neighbor and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster... or a brilliant, comedic piece of theatre.

By far the most impressive moment in the show was Martin Covert's (Vanya) rant-like monologue in which he recalls the days when we still had to lick postage stamps and our television screens were void of color. So many times when actors are up on a stage they look like they're acting. But what's great about a well-written comedy paired with a great actor is that sometimes the audience is allowed to witness an incredibly honest moment that doesn't seem like it's being acted out. In this case, the monologue is so long and Covert's acting was so natural that I almost started to think, "Wait... is this actually what's written in the script or is he really just ranting about the good ole days?" Kudos to you, Mr. Covert, for giving one heck of a performance.

I must also give praise to Susan Shumate (Sonia) and Cassie Steck Worley (Masha) for their portrayals of two sisters whose relationship reminded me of my relationship with my own sister. Sisters quarrel and try to upstage each other, they get jealous and sometimes don't understand each other's lives, but they also love each other and make sacrifices for each other as Sonia and Masha do. You ladies made this sisterly relationship very real and touching, while also keeping the comedy alive.

Speaking of keeping the comedy alive, I mustn't forget Jake Wynne-Wilson, Idella Johnson, and Sophie Amoss for their respective portrayals of Spike (the boyfriend), Cassandra (the housekeeper), and Nina (the neighbor). Between Wynne-Wilson running around in his underwear and tennis shoes, Johnson's incredible physical comedy, or Amoss pretending to be a sentimental molecule, these three kept me laughing the entire show. And honestly, there isn't a better medicine in the world than laughter.

Bravo to the cast for a great performance, bravo to Ron Gural for his wonderful direction, and bravo to David Raphel for his beautiful set! This was a wonderful evening of theatre, and I can't wait to see what Le Petit has in store next!

VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE will run at Le Petit through September 20. Tickets may be purchased here.

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From This Author Heidi Scheuermann