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Monday, January 19, 2015

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike @ Portland Center Stage

"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" is not a straight adaptation of a Chekhov play. but it contains many references to his work, and it's a comedy. My only other exposure to Chekhov's work was an adaptation of "The Seagull" by Joseph Fisher, which I went to see after laughing hysterically at his adaptations of "Faust" and "The New House," which took its inspiration from a Greek play I can no longer recall. Unfortunately, I could not grasp the humor in "The Seagull" or even if it was intended to be humorous, I only assumed it was, given the other adaptations. All this is meant to illustrate the trepidation with which I approached "Vanya and Sonia and Masa and Spike," I am happy to report that the humor is much more accessible.

 The production boasts a top-flight cast, including Sharonlee McLean, who plays Sonia, a character very similar to her role as a perpetual sad-sack in "The Typographer's Dream."

The basic plot is fairly easy to summarize: Siblings Vanya and Sonia live together in the family home, they have spent several years caring for their now deceased parents, while their sister Masha went off to have a career in Hollywood. Masha comes back to visit, and is contemplating selling the house. But, along the way, the play finds comedy in such disparate thnigs as voodoo, experimental theatre, and a "reverse strip-tease", which is self-explanatory, but must be seen to be believed. If you're in the mood for something off-the-wall, this is your show.

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