Review Round-Up: Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”
Christopher Durang is at it again. The author of such absurdist hits (and acting school favorites) as The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Beyond Therapy is taking a jab at Chekhov — the master of theatrical realism. But instead of a Russian summer estate, Durang plops his characters in the middle of Bucks County, Pennsylvania for a riotous tour de force. The cast includes Tony and Academy Award nominee Sigourney Weaver and Tony and Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce.
Here’s what the critics had to say after opening night…
“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. (With little more than a postage-stamp of plot to embroider, Mr. Durang has his characters dress up as Disney cartoons and wander off to a costume party.)” The New York Times
“Restraint has never really been Durang’s thing. (After all, this is the man who turned the war on terror into a comedy called Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.) Whatever he borrows from long-dead Russian playwrights, Vanya and Sonia… is entirely, indisputably, oh-no-he-didn’t classic Durang.” Entertainment Weekly
“The performances, first-rate from the start, have all gotten richer and sharper, and the ensemble playing is beautifully timed and textured. Sigourney Weaver’s narcissistic Masha is better integrated, every emotion radiating with childlike intensity as she thrashes about attempting to control events. Kristine Nielsen’s loopy Sonia—her Maggie Smith impersonation is priceless—is an ideal foil, full of vinegar and gall yet also touchingly vulnerable, especially during a hopeful phone call with a prospective suitor. As Vanya, David Hyde Pierce lies in wait for most of the night, landing his laughs with an eyebrow lift or a muttered quip, until he explodes into all-stops-out hilarity with a meltdown about the drawbacks of modernity.” Backstage
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