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'Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike' is a CityRep hit!

Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre presents “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” at CitySpace Theatre in the Civic Center Music Hall. Christopher Durang is the author and the show is the 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Play. “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” a great show on a wild windy and cold Oklahoma night. Durang mirrors his characters on those in the plays of Chekhov. Rather than reflecting the futility, humility and humor of Russian life, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” pointedly reflect the turmoil, tribulation and tragi-comedy of American life. Durang simply transports the inhabitants of Russian country life to the farmland of Bucks County and adds a century. Three siblings reunite at the family home as the breadwinner of the group, Masha, visits with plans to sell the homestead. The remaining two siblings, Vanya and Sonia are to be turned out; the only the job skills they have are based on having cared for two frail Alzheimer’s patients. The two were patient with their patients as they reversed the roles with their parents, sacrificing their youth.

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” stands alone so familiarly that knowing Chekhov as a playwright is not necessary—it just adds a little more fun. In the lobby on one of the tables is a little help from dramaturg Anna Holloway: “A Chekhov List: Useful Bits to Know.”

Director Michael Jones has cast and directed “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” brilliantly. The characters delineate the differences between what is socially acceptable in different generations. The production team created an ideal mood from set design to costume dressers. With technical perfection and directorial sensitivity, the cast revealed superb characterizations. Returning actress sister Masha was played by Stacey Logan. Logan always delivers a great performance and she nailed it! Both Logan and her character are excellent at emoting. Masha is a cougar and a jealous one at that. Her boyfriend Spike was incredibly portrayed by Haulston Mann. Mann had the daunting task of playing a truly ridiculous person with skill and realism. Mann did so with gusto and in a very enticing manner. The transparency he exhibited without inhibition is typical of the character, yet true and human. The sister left behind to be the drudge is Sonia, played by Wendy Welch. Welch was superlative, blending amusement and confusion exactly right. Long suffering brother Vanya is calm, cool and collected and he was perfectly portrayed by Shawn Churchman. Eventually Vanya loses his cool and Churchman’s soliloquy was a bit too static. Variance in tone, pace and volume would provide greater punctuation to the character. The girl next door is Nina, brought to life by Lauren Grace Thompson. Being that girl without insipidness is very hard to do and Thompson was lovely as she presented a wonderful and unique character. Many households have a somewhat unusual housekeeper, but this house in the country has the utterly unique and entertaining Cassandra, played by Kyra Wharton. Wharton had difficult transitions from untrained voodoo priestess to well-trained but overly familiar maid; she glided effortlessly from one to another. She was brilliant in her performance, shining like a star.

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is completely populated with stars and CityRep has a hit on the boards again. Worthy of Broadway or off Broadway, this production is a feather in the cap for director Jones as well as CityRep Artistic Director Donald Jordan. Performances run through November 23rd with curtain at 7:30 for Thursday – Saturday evenings and 1:30 for Saturday and Sunday matinees. The CitySpace Theatre is located on the lower level of the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City at 201 N. Walker Avenue. For tickets visit or call the CityRep box office at 405-848-3761.

Elizabeth Hurd

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