Theater Review: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike -- 3.5 stars
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
At every performance of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," which just closed on Broadway, the audience got to vote on which of the supporting characters murdered Drood.
At "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Christopher Durang's terrific, Chekhov-inspired comedy, which just transferred to Broadway following an Off-Broadway run at Lincoln Center Theater, the audience ought to vote as to which actor is giving the most sublimely ridiculous performance.
Candidates include David Hyde Pierce, who goes into a rant against the social media generation; Kristine Nielson, who impersonates the queen in "Snow White" as performed by Maggie Smith; Shalita Grant, who delivers warnings in the style of Greek tragedy; Billy Magnusen, who does a striptease; Genevieve Angelson, who performs the role of a molecule in an experimental play; and Sigourney Weaver, whose character is conceited to the point of pure silliness.
Set in a country house in Bucks County, Pa., brother and sister Vanya (Pierce) and Sonia (Nielsen) have spent their entire adult lives at home to take care of their now-deceased parents while their sister Masha (Weaver) became a movie star.
On this particular day, Masha has returned home, bringing along a dumb boy-toy, Spike (Magnussen), with news that she plans to sell the house. This leads her siblings to realize that they have wasted their lives. Nina (Genevieve Angelson), a young girl from next door who wishes to become an actress, also gets involved with the group.
It would appear that director Nicholas Martin has encouraged the cast to play their roles as broadly as possible, with the result being that their performances, on occasion, are way too aggressive.
That aside, this is a smart, relentlessly silly, at times heartwarming comedy.
If you go: "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" plays at the Golden Theatre through June 30. 252 W. 45th St., 212-230-6200.