Sigourney Weaver, a longtime collaborator with Durang, plays Masha with flamboyant overacting. She's clearly having a ball; the whole cast is.... Director Nicholas Martin thankfully doesn't rush things, allowing the actors the freedom to extend a scene just a little further with merely a look....It's all a bit silly, a tad daffy and very, very sweet. Thankfully, for a show that both lampoons and honors Chekhov's themes, it doesn't end with the sadness that usually dominates that revered playwright's work. In fact, you can hear the Beatles sing "Here Comes the Sun."
VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE Broadway Reviews
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It has taken 30 producers to bring Christopher Durang's six-character, one-set comedy "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" to the Great White Way, and all I can say is God bless them, every one. A sold-out hit Off-Broadway for Lincoln Center Theater this past fall, it is easily the best new play of the Main Stem season to date and a top contender for the Tony Award. Both breathtakingly funny and quietly poignant, this Chekhov-inspired work-for which knowledge of the Russian master's plays is not a requirement-is pure joy from start to finish.
Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a comic tour de force about a bunch of Chekhovian characters full of yearning...Hyde Pierce is just plain perfect, and his monologue about the joys of the past is pulled off with a virtuosic mastery of eccentricity and stagecraft.... Nielsen gives her best performance to date, getting big laughs with her Maggie Smith impression...Weaver seems to be stretching in her performance as such a superficial lady, but her emphatic delivery won me over....Nicholas Martin has directed the whole thing with equal parts wit and feeling. I haven't wanted to simultaneously laugh and cry this much since...Chekhov.
When Christopher Durang's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" opened off-Broadway in November, I called this seriously silly play the funniest show in town, yet one with an emotional kick that lifted it to a more rarefied plane. Happily, the show has re-opened on Broadway with its cast (the headliners are Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce), its bucolic Pocono Mountains setting (David Korins) and its laughs intact. It's even better on second viewing, a rare thing for a comedy.
Nicholas Martin’s direction has tuned his expert ensemble to a perfect acting pitch at the Golden, where designer David Korins’ handsome fieldstone-and-timber country house setting is accented by Justin Townsend’s sun-dappled lighting. A classy show in every way, this admirable play and its fine production are certain to be contenders for all sorts of awards at the end of the current Broadway season.
We get too few comedies on Broadway, much less ones with the breezy wit and satirical bite of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike". Like the play’s lonely, bitter characters, I’m so happy that I can stop complaining.
Hyde Pierce and Nielsen make the most of their monologues — his a fierce tirade about how Vanya preferred the life of his youth; hers a heartbreaking phone call setting up a date — and their timing is flawless. Hyde Pierce is a master of the slow burn, while Nielsen’s wild-eyed Sonia often looks as if her train of thought has a loose caboose.
In Durang Land, of course, heartache is generally fodder for belly laughs. There are enough sprinkled throughout his latest play to keep the temperature in the theater from cooling for long, although this romp through an Americanized version of Russian anomie is more a series of loosely connected set pieces than a cogently put-together play.
The play may be - okay, is, definitely - overstuffed. Fortunately, the performances are first-rate. Durang's old Yale Drama pal Weaver and Nielsen, his favorite character actress of late, know his brand of eccentric comedy better than anyone. Nielsen, especially, is at her bug-eyed, bobble-headed best - really, this is a good thing, particularly when she's impersonating Maggie Smith. And sure, Hyde Pierce's second-act harangue against technology, TV, and self-stick postage stamps goes on about five minutes two long - though the Frasier star's delivery couldn't be more spot-on....But restraint has never really been Durang's thing...Whatever he borrows from long-dead Russian playwrights, Vanya and Sonia... is entirely, indisputably, oh-no-he-didn't classic Durang.
Alongside the sentiment is Durang's deeply touching faith in the ability of a cartoon style to sustain serious -- no cosmic -- purpose without sacrificing trust in the transcendent pleasures of the wicked and silly. Broadway can handle that.
Don't be deceived by the dazzling zaniness of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. In Christopher Durang's hugely entertaining new play, which opened Thursday at Broadway's Golden Theatre, there's a perilously fine line between comedy and tragedy.
It would appear that director Nicholas Martin has encouraged the cast to play their roles as broadly as possible, with the result being that their performances, on occasion, are way too aggressive. That aside, this is a smart, relentlessly silly, at times heartwarming comedy.
The real problem is how the different parts of the play connect to one another.... You begin to get the feeling that Durang, in modeling his structure on Chekhov, invested in the best luggage available and then packed it like someone with five minutes to get to the airport. Some of what comes out of the valise is gorgeous: thoughtful, quiet moments but also perfectly crafted comedy scenes that sustain their dizziness for improbably long stretches. Other elements-notably the borderline-offensive black cleaning lady, who's all sass and voodoo-make you think: Why did he bring that?...Like its Chekhovian characters, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is assembled from mismatched parts and is desperate for affection, which it miraculously earns.
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