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Review: 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike' brings non-stop laughter

Vanya offers to show the family his play and during which, Spike is distracted by his phone. Clearly unimpressed, Vanya yells out of frustration to the group.1 / 3
Spike uses his reverse strip tease, by putting his clothes back on after swimming in the pond, to get Vanya's attention. (Submitted photos)2 / 3
Cassandra, the house cleaner, was known for her spiritual powers. In this scene she used a voodoo doll dressed as Sonia.3 / 3

The Phoenix Theatre production of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" helps us all feel less alone when illustrating the weird, crazy, hilarious and very relatable family dynamic.

Director Julie Martin, a local celebrity in community theatre, brought to the stage a cast of actors that kept the audience uncontrollably laughing throughout the two-hour runtime.

The play starts with Vanya and Masha, two siblings who still live together in their old age. Over coffee, they sit together staring out at the pond and banter about how miserable their lives have become. When the rest of the family, Sonia and boyfriend Spike arrive home from New York, everything turns chaotic with her announcement of wanting to sell the house. But first, to Sonia's request, they all decide to attend a costume party.

The play really gets going when the cast returns from the party.

As Sonia, an older woman, tries desperately to attract her younger boyfriend Spike, Masha and Vanya run into a problem of their own. Neither of them have a job, nor do they have what they would consider a substantial life.

These wonderful characters, accompanied by Cassandra — the outstanding cleaning lady who has a sixth sense, and Nina — the beautiful next-door neighbor who challenges Sonia's insecurities, bring to life the story of family troubles, all taking place in their childhood home in Pennsylvania.

"I promise you, you will be laughing," Helene Olson-Reed, chair of Phoenix Theatre said.

It's a small cast with a big personality. Tim Bowes, who plays Vanya, has a secret of his own that comes to play, keeping the audience curious when Spike steps on stage. Marcy Watzl, who plays Marsha, lets her sad outlook on life continue to get the best of her, especially when telling her family how she's never succeeded at love.

This convivial piece will definitely be memorable to all who stop by to see it.

If you go …

Who: Phoenix Theatre

What: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday March 24, 7:30 p.m. Saturday March 25, 3 p.m. Sunday March 26

Cost: $12.50-$15.50

More info: www.sheldontheatre.org or 651-388-8700

Kit Murray

Kit Murray joined Red Wing Republican Eagle in Aug. 2016, covering government, transportation and public safety. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in photojournalism and philosophy. 

(651) 301-7874
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