Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The current show at Attleboro Community Theatre is the comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang. Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they grew up. However their peace is disturbed when their movie star sister Masha returns unannounced with her twenty-something boy toy, Spike. They discuss their lives and loves, argue and Masha who supports her siblings, threatens to sell the house.
The only other resident of their home, is the cleaning lady, Cassandra who like her namesake, is always making dire predictions that nobody believes. Some of the elements of the show are derived from Anton Chekov, including some of the character names, the play’s setting in a cherry orchard, and the theme of the possible loss of an ancestral home. The play is about accepting life as it is. It’s about change and accepting change. It is also that there is no place like home no matter what else happens along the way. Director Jeanne Smith infuses her cast with high energy in these comic roles and obtains hilarious performances from all of them. There is also a dramatic punch in the second act from the two sisters and a powerful monologue from Vanya on the way things used to be when people took time to enjoy themselves and each other and not rush around on Twitter, cell phones and snap chat.
Jeanne is aided by two assistant directors, Chris Verleger and Emily Lamarre. The terrific living room set with out door siding around the playing area built by John Campbell who is also the stage manager. Jeanne gives each member of her cast their moment to shine in the show. The constantly arguing Vanya and Sonia are marvelously played by Chris Sabatino and Jill Druhan Albanese. His character is 59 years old and is gay. Chris delivers the goods with his one liners but absolutely stops the show with his huge monologue in Act 2 that won him thunderous applause. Jill is very funny especially when she breaks the coffee cups in a fit of anger as well as when she imitates Maggie Smith in “California Suite” while saying she’s the Wicked Queen from Snow White. Her dramatic breakdown scene with her sister, Masha is another show stopping moment. She explains that she took care of their parents for 15 years while Masha was away acting. Carolyn Coughlin commands the stage as the over the top, Masha. She always wanted to act in Chekov plays but ended up doing a couple of slasher movies for the money. Masha needs constant praise and adulation and exclaims she will be Snow White at a costume party and others need to be dwarfs. She threatens her siblings with eviction but after Vanya’s monologue, argument with Spike and commiseration with Cassandra, she comes to her senses at last. Carolyn runs the gamut of emotions in this role and delivers a brilliant portrayal.
The sexy, always preening himself and flexing, half dressed Spike is excellently played by Jason Karol. He is a hoot as this dumber than dirt lothario. Jason is always exercising and trying to entice Vanya and Nina with his antics. Spike goes to the party as Prince Charming but quickly goes downhill in the second act with his cell phone antics during Vanya’s play reading.The biggest scene stealer is Anne Faiella as Cassandra. She is always making dire predictions “Beware the Ides of March” and punishes someone with a voodoo doll with pins. I last reviewed her as Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and this displays her comic talents to a tee. Her costumes are very colorful and hilarious. Rounding out the cast is Sarah Quintiliani as Nina, the niece of the neighbors who wants to go to the costume party and wants to read Vanya’s play ala Konstatin’s from “The Seagull” while performing it for the others. So for a thought provoking, yet hilarious play, be sure to catch “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” to witness topnotch acting and directing right here in Attleboro. Tell them Tony sent you.
VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE (24 February to 12 March)
Attleboro Community Theatre, 71 No Main St, Attleboro, MA
1(508)226-8100 or www.attleborocommunitytheatre.com