Quote of the Day:  The play is not based on Chekhov, nor is it a parody of Chekhov. Chekhov is more of a personal jumping-off point for me. It’s as if I took characters and themes from Chekhov and put them in a blender. Christopher Durang, “Author’s Note” to the play, NY dramatist’s Play Service, 2014 (also printed in the program for the Guthrie Theater’s production).

Suzanne Warmanen (Sonia), Candy Buckley (Masha), Joshua James Campbell (Spike) and Charles Janasz (Vanya) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. Directed by Joel Sass, set design by Todd Rosenthal, costume design by Ilona Somogyi, lighting design by Barry Browning, sound design by Sean Healey. July 19 – August 31, 2014 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2014.

Christopher Durang’s play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a character show. He had very specific types in mind as he was writing it. I woke up this morning wondering how the casting call might read: Wanted: two males, four females for modern comedy inspired by classic characters – older man, a bit grey and shaky, hasn’t quite lost his ability to appreciate a nice body, bemoans change in technology, culture, and human behavior, given to ranting. Second male – extremely buff and self-confident, able to strut around the stage in his underwear while doing calisthenics, aware, but unaware, of how much he’s turning on everyone onstage…and off! Middle-aged woman with a deep, mysterious voice who practices voodoo (in a funny, yet, pointed way) and “predicts” the future, can do that look that drives deep into your brain. Two sisters, who seem to be polar opposite in body type and personality. One is larger than life full of herself glamorous with an “everybody look at me” air. The other practically disappears into the furniture and has no self-esteem, or life. And, finally, the young and beautiful up and coming actress, slightly star-struck by the veteran actor, wants to please everyone, looks like a doll in a fairy-princess costume.

Put that mix in a blender and see what you come up with! Durang does a smashing  job of bringing out the unique flavors of all those types. The directing (by Joel Sass) and acting add the spice that get your jolly juices flowing. I thought I was going to bust a gut laughing at the “reverse strip tease” scene. Not just because of the hottie-boombalottie, but also the reactions of the other characters. Each one really knows how to make an exit, which leaves you wondering what happens when they come back!

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (plus, Cassandra and Nina) are highly entertaining on a steamy summer night. It’s a great comedy to be playing opposite the Guthrie’s My Fair Lady. After you’re done tapping your toes to I could have danced all night, trip on over to this crazy comedy and drink in a tall glass of laughs, sight gags (visual stimulation), and characters you just might identify with.


For tickets and showtimes, go to The Guthrie Theater, or call the box office, 612-377-2224.
Both shows are running through August 31, 2014.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  What’s your favorite summer drink, where do you most enjoy sipping it, and who is with you?