Russia Moves To Pennsylvania in New Durang Play
By Bonnie Goldberg
Contemporary playwright Christopher Durang obviously has a lot of respect and admiration for a fellow writer, Anton Chekhov, even if they lived more than a century apart, in a different country of birth, Russia to his America. Why else would Durang sprinkle references liberally through his newest offering "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" being delightfully displayed for your amusement at the Hartford Stage until Sunday, June 22.
From the title onward and upward, Durang pays homage to this much beloved man of letters, revered as one of the greatest writers of short stories in history. With a plot line here and a character there, Durang makes reference to "Uncle Vanya," "The Cherry Orchard," "The Seagull" and "The Three Sisters." But don't worry if you're not a student of Chekhov, you'll be laughing too hard to notice.
Vanya, a philosophical Mark Nelson, lives with his adopted sister Sonia, a retiring Caryn West, in the house where they spent fifteen years caring for their elderly parents. While they were caregivers, their outgoing sister Masha, an egotistical Leslie Hendrix, has been pursuing an acting career all over the globe and sending home the funds for her family and household.
One morning, their housekeeper Cassandra, a bewitching Stacey Sargeant, sweeps in spouting words of warning, to beware, beware, beware. Before you can say "witches on a broomstick" three times, Masha dramatically enters with her much younger new lover Spike in tow, a ripped and rippled David Gregory. Spike attracts the attention of Nina, an innocently eager Andrea Lynn Green, who is visiting next door and is soon fascinated by the older generation in the house, especially by the magnificent Masha.
Watch as missing socks, licking stamps, molecules, blue herons, Sleepy Time Tea, frogs, sequined gowns, men's underwear, Snow White and her dwarfs, cups of cold coffee, wild turkeys, The Ed Sullivan Show and voodoo dolls all mingle and merge in importance at 55 Hollyhock Lane in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The lovely farmhouse set designed by Jeff Cowrie fairly sizzles with tension and temper tantrums under the careful and comic hands of director Maxwell Williams.
For tickets ($25-85), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with selected additional shows on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
For a delicious mix of weird, wacky and wonderful, plan a visit with Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike soon.Stay for a lunch of tuna fish sandwiches and soup, conjured in the kitchen by Cassandra.