BWW Review: VANYA AND SONYA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Mesa Encore Theatre
BWW Review: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Set in a normal living room, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a play about sibling relationships, aging, nostalgia, and reconciliation. Vanya and Sonia have lived together for years, even after their ailing parents have passed away. The home is owned by their famous sister, Masha, who comes for a visit with her much younger boyfriend in tow. With a zany housekeeper, Cassandra, delivering warnings that always come true, and a wide-eyed Masha admirer named Nina, the siblings learn what is important, how they can live with themselves, and one another.
As Vanya, Rob Stuart, is reserved, yet sardonic. Vanya does not have much to say, but his presence is impossible to ignore. Stuart handles the complexity of the character with care and expertise. He has an easy chemistry with the other actors and provides the foundation for the show. Rob Stuart has great comedic timing, but also provides the most poignant moment of the play. He is excellent as Vanya and should not be missed.
Sonia is played by Stephanie M. Hart. Sonia was adopted into the family and harbors a lot of resentment toward everyone, including herself. She feels invisible and acts out to get attention. Despite this, Hart allows the audience to connect with Sonia. She also provides several of the biggest laughs in the show. Hart brings an endearing quality to Sonia even though some of her actions are childish and petty.
Suze St. John brings Masha to life. Masha is exactly what you would expect an aging, famous movie star to be. She demands attention, especially from her much younger boyfriend, Spike. St. John presents the insecurities, talent, and opinions of Masha with flair and compassion. Masha is not the most likeable person, but St. John changes the minds of the audience with her skill.
As Cassandra, Susan Schlesinger, brings a healthy dose of humor to the show. The warnings she delivers are accurate, but Schlesinger has impeccable comedic timing which makes the audience forget the severity of her warnings. She brings joy to the stage any time she enters and has a fantastic stage presence. Chase Zeiner plays Spike, Masha's wannabe actor, boyfriend. Zeiner plays his part well and provides believable conflict for the other characters. He is brave and funny at the same time. As Nina, Aubrey Kretz, presents youthful adoration and hope. She sees the best in people and provides the environment for the characters to grow. Kretz has an easy stage presence. She blends well with the other actors and rounds out this excellent cast.
Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike is a unique show, written by Christopher Durang. This production is directed by Amy Bjorklund, who uses the space well and allows the actors to shine. This is a fantastic production that made this author think about how simple life used to be, long after the play was over. Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike runs through January 27 at the Mesa Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased here.