When playwright Christopher Durang’s play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike opened in New York, the reception was overwhelming—and how could it not be? Durang is arguably one of the best comic writers for the theater—crafting scripts full of absurd characters and hilarious catastrophe that leave audiences rolling in the aisles, tears of laughter streaming down their faces. And you don’t have to take our word for it. The play won a 2013 Tony Award for Best New Play, and this particular production was hailed by critics as “Undeniably funny” and “excellent!” (Kansas City Star). The co-production is under the direction of Kansas City Rep’s Artistic Director Eric Rosen, and brings to Baltimore three of Kansas City’s cast members, including Tony Award-nominee Barbara Walsh, who last appeared at Center Stage as Desirée in 2008’s A Little Night Music.
“We believe that our audiences deserve to see the best of American theater, and Christopher Durang is one of the leading voices in contemporary drama,” says Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah. “As more and more theaters announce productions of this hilarious, award-winning new comedy, we are excited that Baltimore will be among the first round of cities to experience it.” Yet another awesome move by Kwei-Armah, who in his short tenure as Center Stage’s Artistic Director has so far made one bold, artistically exciting choice after another—and raised the bar on what we should expect from our local regional theater.
If you’re not a self-identified theater buff, it may help to know that Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike draws (at least conceptually) from the super-realistic (and arguably dry) plays of Anton Chekhov. But since Durang is is charge here, that world is turned on its head, and made the site of much hilarity when the quiet farmhouse life of two sisters is is rocked by the arrival of their glamorous movie star sister Masha and her hunky boy toy, Spike. A lifetime of sibling rivalry explodes into a weekend of comedic pyrotechnics. You know how it is.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang, directed by Eric Rosen, runs through May 25. Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased by calling 410.332.0033, or visiting www.centerstage.org.
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