Having recently ended a sold out run at the McCarter theatre in Princeton, the play now moves to Lincoln Center's Off Broadway Mitzi Newhouse theatre. We enjoyed the play so much when we saw it at McCarter that we are going back to see it again at Lincoln Center in a few weeks.
|Billy Magnussen, Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce|
Weaver, as Masha, is a successful movie actress who is always working and left her two siblings behind at the house they all grew up in to care for their aging parents. The parents are now both gone and Masha has returned home once again to show off her new boy toy Spike, attend a costume party and drop some bad news about that house they're all connected to. While Masha was away constantly working and making enough money to pay for the upkeep of the house and the expenses required to care for her parents, Vanya and Sonia feel like they have been left behind, trapped and now have no life outside of the house they've been stuck in to care for their patents. They also are angry at Masha for the exciting life she has led while they've had no lives at all. It is an interesting view into two sides of an issue that most everyone has to deal with, the care of aging parents and the toll it takes on those involved and how it can potentially pit siblings against each other. The various themes in the play- sibling relationships, the selling off of the family house, wasted lives and even a play within a play all are drawn from Chekhov's main plays including The Seagull, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. But of course this is a comedy and so Durang manages to ring every possible comic bit out of these situations.
|Shalita Grant, Kristine Nielsen and David Hyde Pierce|
Any fan of Frasier knows that David Hyde Pierce is a gifted comedian. And while his role as Vanya is more on the subdued side, at least for the first half of the play, he gets a monologue that is triggered by Spike's texting at an inappropriate time that is so expertly delivered by Hyde Pierce that it whips the latter half of the play into a virtual comic frenzy.
While Kristine Nielsen isn't as well known as Weaver or Hyde Pierce, she pretty much gets the best material in the play including an entire sequence of her doing an impeccable Maggie Smith impression. Nielsen has had her fair share of good parts in the past, including one in another Durang play, Miss Witherspoon, but this is one role that will elevate her even higher in the theatre world.
|Genevieve Angelson, Shalita Grant and Sigourney Weaver|
I especially liked the running bit with Angelson saying that Hyde Pierce reminds her of her uncle so she will call him "Uncle Vanya" as well as Grant's premonitions and use of a voodoo doll. Those comical bits are just icing on this comical cake. And with Durang making the character of Vanya a gay man, I'm not sure if Durang is intentionally making the three siblings a pseudo take off of Three Sisters just like Chekov's play or not but if he did it was a pretty genius move.
Production elements are top notch, including an amazing set design by David Korins and character perfect costumes by Emily Kebholz including very funny ones for the costume party. Director Nicholas Martin manages to stage the comic and dramatic moments nicely while letting his actors constantly shine. This includes the three actors in lesser parts, who Martin always manages to not always stick in the background where they could be over shadowed by their more experienced and well known co-stars.
Get your tickets to Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike now before the Lincoln Center run is sold out.
Official Show Site
Show clips and interviews from the McCarter production: