IB Theater Journal
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
by Christopher Durang
Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild Festival
March 1st 2014
Here is an image of the set for Norwell High School's production of
"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
IB Theater SL2
March 2, 2014
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Play Review 2014
On Saturday March 1st I attended the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Drama Festival. S.T.A.G.E. Left was taking their first performance, JUVIE to compete. While I was there, I was pleased to see many shows. Some shows were better than others however one play in particular tickled my fancy. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike was a fabulously hilarious production put on by Norwell High School. There interpretation of this Tony Award winning play was a real joy to watch.
At the start of the show the tech crew quickly assembled a large multi-pieced exterior of a house. Then carefully added outdoor furniture made out of wicker, which caught my eye because when we performed our Christopher Durang one-act plays we used very similar wicker furniture! After everything was set up, the MC’s got up on stage and announced that the performance was about to begin.
The start of the play was like any old performance two old people emerge from their home and discuss the birds outside or the scenery near the pond. More often than not the two exchange vulgar diction which prove their slightly negative feelings towards each other. This reminded me very much of Connor and I’s characters in performance of “Phyllis and Xenobia” who were siblings too and were growing very sick of each other. However in the good spirit of Christopher Durang there is always some very clever comedic relief. Being a theatre student and lover of the arts I was so pleased to pick up on many remarks such as, the mention of Stanislavski!
The actors within this production were incredible risk-takers. The actress playing Sonia, Erica Fallon had such incredible stage presence and was able to break a tea cup and not break character, to which I say Bravo! I was very impressed by the strength all the actors possessed. I especially enjoyed the portrayal of Cassandra the housekeeper, by Emma Broderick. She had so much courage to play such a spiritually enthusiastic character. In this performance I did not see one teenage, I only saw their characters which is something we actors strive to achieve in every performance. Another risk was taken by the actor playing Spike, Quinn Kane. He was brave enough to take off his shirt... and his pants! All these characters added so many levels to the performance.
I was able to notice many connections to class in this performance. Of course, I noticed many connections to our work with Christopher Durang one-acts for Arts Festival but, I noticed many connections to Anne Bogart's Viewpoints. In the beginning of the scene, I noticed that Sonia and Vanya sat very far from each other. This spatial relationship reinforced the fact that the two siblings were unhappy with each other. In this scene, I also noticed duration when Vanya and Sonia were sitting and staring at each other in silence. Viewpoints came up again when Masha was first introduced she was sitting close to Spike, however by the end she was sitting farther away from him and then he eventually leaves. This shows how over time the relationship between Masha and Spike quickly disintegrates.
Like in most Christopher Durang productions the content is often jumbled and even the small things are exaggerated. Durang is known to have a lot of nonsensical themes and topics in his plays. Similar to these scenarios is Absurdist Theatre. I made a huge connection to my IPP involving Absurdist Theatre because of the absurdity of the play. Using absurdism as my IPP practice I was able to make many connections to the Durang plays we performed last year and to this production.
I really appreciated the directing of the piece as a whole. The production was directed by Chris Lacy. As a fellow director (I still cannot believe I can say that) I really noticed all the little things that kept the show flowing and moving smoothly. Keeping the performance focused on the scenes outside the house made the production organized rather than making many unnecessary set changes. I enjoyed the fact that their set matched the scene well and seemed to form a cohesive production. The designers did a fabulous job designing costumes and make-up. The costume extremes and quirkiness of Cassandra foiling the bland and ordinariness of Sonia were quality eye candy for the dedicated theatre enthusiast.
The MC’s finally returned to the stage following the completion of Norwell’s play with some witty closing remarks such as, “I guess we can check-off this one”. Get it.... Chekhov, as in the playwright, Anton Chekhov! I have to say I really enjoyed this performance and all of the performances at METG. I am very thankful for the opportunity to have seen so many talented plays and met so many talented students!