Unforgettable "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" at John Bourne Theatre

Photo by Joseph Pacifico

The play "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," written by Christopher Durang, has a title that is not easily remembered, but I promise you won't forget this story when you see it. And this production? It is unforgettable.

Director Bernard Bosio does a wonderful job capturing the story of three middle-aged siblings trying to figure out how their lives have unfolded. Vanya (Gary Dooley) and Sonia (Liz Bove) long to find balance, love, and joy, whereas Masha (Meg Dooley), the beautiful actress, has her fame to hold over her siblings’ heads when she returns home on a surprise visit with plans to sell the family house in modern day Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Vanya, played by Gary Dooley, is the brother of these three siblings. Longing for simpler days, he is stuck in a world that has passed him by with no real direction. With an unfinished play and no real sense of his own identity, he and Sonia are supported by Masha and are pretty much at her mercy. Dooley captures the character perfectly. His ability to switch from banter to serious real-world reflection is brilliant. He holds the attention and laughter of the audience throughout every scene.

Masha, Meg Dooley, flaunts her fame, fortune, and control over her siblings in the most dramatic of ways. While she wins the audience over with her charm and self-absorption, it is simple to see where the deep-rooted rivalry between these two sisters is emphasized.

Sonia, played by Liz Bove, is the adopted sister who can not understand how her life escaped her so fast. Her dry humor and sarcasm reaches to the core of the trio. In an effortless performance, Bove had me rooting for her all the way through!

Vanya and Sonia’s discontent with Masha is made even funnier with the surprise arrival of her younger boy-toy boyfriend Spike, played by the ever-hysterical John Honey-Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s frat boy-esque persona was perfect. From his morning “stretches,” to wearing as little clothing as possible, he has more than one person in the house running amok with wild thoughts.

Which, speaking of wild thoughts, brings me to the very talented Qianna Brooks who plays the maid, Cassandra. However, this is not just any maid, but one with futuristic visions that riddle her with this bittersweet gift of knowledge. Brooks commands the stage during each and every vision. Her abilities continuously have her warning the siblings of events and people, which ensues quite the mayhem. One of her foreboding moments being about the neighbor’s niece, Nina. (Talk about an alliteration.) Lovely, innocent, young Nina becomes a regular visitor to the siblings' beautiful home in hopes of befriending her favorite actress, Masha. Sarah Cheatham plays the wonderfully naive Nina. Cheatham captures the essence of the wide-eyed and dream-filled fan, while tying everything together in a nice neat little satin bow.

Last, but certainly not least I must mention the absolutely stunning sets where the story comes to life. This goes beyond simply a set of a house, but rather magically captures the warmth of a home. I was so at ease, it felt as if the lights were in fact rays of sun slicing into the room. This show shines; talent beams from every aspect of this show.

Bosio’s production of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" is worth every second. Prepare to laugh so hard it’ll count as "ab day" at the gym. The show is currently playing at the John Bourne Theatre in Brooklyn Heights, April 7th, 8th, 21st, and 22nd at 8pm; and April 9th and 23rd at 2pm. As Cassandra would call out “Beware” …. Of missing this amazing experience!

For tickets click here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2785948 or call 718-237-2752

Photo by Joseph Pacifico





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