Why Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike?
Obviously, when we look for plays to produce, we concentrate on those that provide good roles for women over 40. We also look for plays that will fill the air with thoughts, humor and sincerity. Most importantly, we want something that is accessible and will engage all audiences.
So, let’s see how Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike stacks up to our checklist.
Roles for women over 40
Two of the title characters provide roles for women in their 50s and the role of Cassandra can be played by a woman of any age.
Through humour, Durang is able to articulate many ideas relevant today, such as global warming and the absurdities of much of modern technology. He is also able to update Chekhov’s themes… isolation, loss, regret, melancholy…to fit 21st century America.
Christopher Durang has a talent for sharp, honest humor and, while his plays often veer off into the absurd, they are both entertaining and contemplative. And you don’t need to know a darn thing about Anton Chekhov or his plays to find it deliriously funny!
The themes that run through Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike – romanticizing the past, feeling like life has passed you by, that you didn’t reach your potential, unrequited love, fear of life, of death, of losing your space, your home, your place in the vast scheme of things – are all things we have felt at one time or another.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike has its absurd moments, but is always approachable. It deals with the intricacies of family life with minimal plot and action, like a good Chekhov play does, and some of the character names as well as ideas are taken from Chekov. But Durang’s play is not a modern re-write or parody. It’s a very clever and witty piece of writing, described by Durang as Chekhovian characters and themes “put through a blender”.
Best of all, the character’s in Durang’s play are all approachable – if you don’t identify directly with them, you will know someone who is like them. And, you will like them, warts and all!