“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” – Arizona Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ October 13, 2014


Arizona Theatre Company, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Be prepared to laugh if you attend Arizona Theatre Company’s delightfully zany ”Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Christopher Durang’s new comedy delight that spoofs and slams everyday foibles that influence people’s lives as they glide into the endless rut of daily living.

Durang’s new comedy won the 2013 Best Play Tony Award and it is brought to vibrant life by a great ensemble of gifted comediennes who create charmingly laughable performances in Joel Sass’ sharply staged Arizona Theatre Company production that reveals with deft comic touches the play’s wacky whimsy.

Durang crafts a family made charming by unusual weirdoes.  Movie star Masha makes lots of money to support her stay-at-home brother and sister, Vanya and Sonia, who have tended to their aging but now deceased parents.  Masha has a hot Hollywood stud boyfriend, Spike, and there’s an outspoken cleaning lady, Cassandra, who adds clever mayhem to this family.

Durang is adept at slamming the foibles that rule our lives.  Many of the machinations that make up the play’s “as-the-world-turns” plot are trite but they are the petty things that are common to everyone’s lives.  Durang suggests that we let these annoying but inconsequential things cause too much commotion in our lives.

Sass’ slyly comic staging makes the most of Durang’s hilarious stupidity.  There’s nothing revolutionary about the production or performances but they are perfect to light Durang’s play on comic fire.

Mousy Suzanne Warmanen’s Sonia moans and complains her way through life claiming that her parental devotion has kept her from developing her own life.  Brother Vanya, played with feet-on-the-ground sincerity by Charles Janasz, keeps the family together.  Suzanne Bouchard is film actress Masha who constantly flaunts her successful stability as the family money earner while she maintains a bizarre relationship with Joshua James Campbell’s stalwartly hunky Spike.  Isabell Monk O’Connor’s maid Cassandra is the most sensible character in this weird family.

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is funny and amusing but doesn’t leave you with much of anything beyond the laughs.  It continues through October 26 at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix.  For tickets, call the Arizona Theatre Company box office at 602-256-6995 or order online at www.arizonatheatre.org.

Grade: B


Over the weekend, Arizona Opera presented “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna” at Symphony Hall and the new opera was impressive.  I will review the entire opera season after the last production but let me offer just a few words about “Cruzar.”  The music is lovely and beautifully melodic and the fine singers sang the score with great beauty and dramatic intensity.  If there was a weakness, it was the opera’s book which failed to give the story about Velasquez, a Mexican immigrant, much drama.  The opera closed Sunday, October 12.