“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” might be termed Christopher Durang’s homage to Anton Chekhov; several elements of the play are derived from Chekhov’s works, including the names of three of the four characters named in the title, and the theme of the possible loss of the “ancestral” home.
However, familiarity with Chekhov’s plays is certainly not needed to enjoy Durang’s comedy. As the playwright himself says, "My play is not a Chekhov parody...I take Chekhov scenes and characters and put them into a blender."
Vanya, Sonia and Masha are siblings (there are no characters named Spike in Chekhov!!). Their parents are long dead and Vanya and Sonia, who cared for them as their health declined, continue to live in the family home in Pennsylvania supported by their movie star sister Masha.
The unexpected arrival of Masha and Spike, her latest boy toy, throws the family into chaos, including Cassandra, the house cleaner who is devoted to Vanya and Sonia but not much of a cleaner!
In 2013, the work won the Tony Award for Best Play, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play, the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Play.
Josie De Guzman, who plays Masha, and Rachael Holmes, who is Cassandra in the Alley Theatre’s production currently on the Hubbard Stage, speak with Houston Public Media’s St.John Flynn.
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” continues at the Alley Theatre through June 15th.