Erika Wardlow, Greg Collier, & Candy Thomas in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and and Spike. Photo courtesy Little Colonel Playhouse.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and and Spike
By Christopher Durang
Directed by Jeff Mangum
Review by Brian Kennedy
Entire contents copyright © 2017 by Brian Kennedy. All rights reserved.
A show with a vast array of emotion, comedy, and plot points, the cast does well with Little Colonel Playhouse’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
The play features three siblings and one boy-toy. Two of the siblings, Vanya (Greg Collier) and Sonia (Erika Wardlow), open the show on chairs in the morning room of a house they share. Vanya and Sonia trade one-liners back in forth Neil Simon-style as they talk about and resent the lack of excitement or happiness in their lives. Collier and Wardlow show good energy, great timing, and, most importantly, great chemistry, through the early stages, setting the tone for the rest of the play.
Chemistry was also on point with as Masha (Candy Thomas), a famous actress who owns the home Vanya and Sonia share, returns home with her boyfriend, if you want to call him that, named Spike (Brandon Fouch).
As Masha greets Vanya and dismisses Sonia, Fouch gives Spike the dim-witted personality his character needs, talking about how he almost got into a spin-off and doing a “reverse striptease,” which was probably the most awkward and hilarious thing during the play. Seeing the shock and disgust on the other character’s faces added to the hilarity.
Thomas, meanwhile, gives Masha the right amount of holier-than-thou attitude that Masha would believably have as a famous movie actress. Thomas is also laugh-out-loud funny in her jealous reactions when Spike introduces everyone to the visiting neighbor Nina (Macreena Groody). Later, in a war of words with Sonia that boils over in the second act, Thomas shows depth with her character as her frustration and anger come out.
Other characters made their way into the fold and made a good impact. Groody, as Nina, is delightful and had a great, almost friendship-like chemistry with Vanya as they go over a script. Also, Christine O’Hara, as Cassandra, the maid with a knack for predicting the future, awesomely walks the fine line of being over-the-top with her predictions but still believable.
The play was well-performed by everyone. Wardlow, in particular, effortlessly gives Sonia, who is not blood-related and also has bad luck with men, an extra amount of appropriate venom to showcase the character’s frustration. Wardlow also showed the most range of anyone throughout the play, from frustration and sadness to her situation to a hard-fought moment of happiness later, Wardlow makes the audience feel what she is going through at every moment.
Every moment had plenty of uptempo energy from the cast, even during the overlong second act. The play took too much time coming to a resolution on its many plot points. For instance, Vanya’s long monologue, made when he goes on a tirade against Spike and his generation in general, was well-played but could have probably been cut in half. This is not a cast or director issue; this was a playwriting fault.
Nonetheless, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike showcases a cohesive unit that utilizes the right touch of emotion, whether it’s to showcase the hilarity or the frustration of a situation.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
November 3, 4, 9, 10, & 11 at 7:30pm
November 5 & 12 at 2:00pm
Little Colonel Playhouse
302 Mount Mercy Drive
Pewee Valley, Kentucky 400
Brian Kennedy is a nearly life-long Louisville resident who has performed in plays since 2004. He also wrote extensively about the Louisville theatre scene for Louisville.com and Examiner.com from 2009-2015. Currently, he maintains the theatre blog LouBriantheater. When not involved in the theatre scene, he is an avid runner, participating in 5Ks throughout the state and in southern Indiana.