BWW Review: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Elmwood Playhouse

BWW Review: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Elmwood Playhouse"I dreamed I was 52 and unmarried," so says Sonia, at the very beginning of Christopher Durang's dryly eccentric comedy about the middle-aged children of a pair of literary professors who thoughtlessly named their children after the characters in Chekov plays.

The play won the Best Play Tony Award in 2013 (admittedly not a great year for plays) and has rapidly become one of the most performed plays by regional theaters across the country. Elmwood production, is a very good one.

One of the siblings, Masha (Robie Livingstone in Lisa Spielman's Elmwood Theatre production) has grown up to be a famous actress, who covers all the expenses of her two siblings, who for reasons unclear, still live in their parents' house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania - where they seem to do nothing but whine about how awful and empty their lives are. Early in his career, Durang gave us bitter, abrasive satires like "Beyond Therapy" and "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You," but now he seems to be feeling his age and turning his considerable skill and focus onto the frustrations of middle-age.

BWW Review: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Elmwood Playhouse

Vanya points out that Sonia, (played with great gusto by Meg Sewell), actually is 52 and unmarried. Vanya, played by Charlie Scatamacchia, is also unmarried but apparently not as concerned about it.

Robie Livingstone (Masha), Charlie Scatamacchia (Vanya), John Squires (Spike) and Meg Sewell (Sonia) are all first rate. They imbue Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike - very broadly written characters - with a great deal of color and depth. Masha's return for a visit to the Bucks County homestead drives their collective angst to new levels. Masha brings her boy toy, Spike, along for the ride. Spike is a wild, muscle-bound, moron who really likes to take his clothes off. His youthful verve and energy are the diametric opposite of the frumpy cerebral Sonia and Vanya.

Predictably, Spike has a wandering eye, one that finds in its focus the lovely young neighbor, Nina (another Chekhovia name). Masha doesn't even try to hide her dismay at Nina's appearance and latter's revelation that she has been Masha's biggest fan since she was a child. She immediately emerges as a rival for Spike's affections and Masha takes great pains to squash her.

Emma Miller charmingly plays Nina as a naive, dewy-eyed youth, with dreams of becoming an actress, but some of her lines suggest that Durang may have intended for her to seem a bit more ambitious.

BWW Review: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Elmwood Playhouse

A thorough knowledge of Chekhov is not necessary to enjoy the play - but it doesn't hurt! Some of the more clever inside jokes go right over the heads of the lay audience. Sonia rhapsodizes about the cherry orchard in the back yard, only for Vanya challenge her on the definition of an orchard. Even the hilarious housekeeper Cassandra (Tracey McAllister) steps straight out of a Greek tragedy - complete with second-sight straight, voodoo dolls and hilarious prophesies of doom.

Scatamacchia is superb - it doesn't hurt that he has the lion share of the evening's best lines - he manages to be funny, sad and engaging at the same time. And he executes Vanya's enormous Act 2 monologue with great pathos and vulnerability.

Sonia has a lovely and moving monologue as well and in that tender and painful moment, Sewell brilliantly conveys her pain, longing and desire to have what she perceives everyone else (e.g Masha) has.

Mr. Durang has a gift for creating nuts and neurotics and although this play really breaks no new ground, it is very funny, very touching and very very entertaining.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Elmwood Playhouse, Nyack, New York

https://elmwoodplayhouse.com/

-Peter Danish

Related Articles View More Rockland / Westchester Stories   Shows






From This Author Peter Danish

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram
   



  SHARE