Big laughs in stylish comedy, now playing on the Toronto stage
Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a comedy that gets funnier after funnier with each scene. Playing at the Scarborough Village Theatre, this story will make your own sibling relations seem perfectly functional.
Wistful Sonia (Deborah Jarvis) and complacent Vanya (Chip Thompson) are stay-at-home siblings to whom nothing exciting ever happens. Things run amok after their psychic housekeeper Cassandra (Carolyn Williamson) warns them of housing doom and gloom. Sure enough, their movie star sister Masha (Martha Breen) waltzes in to visit, introduces her young bimbo boyfriend Spike (Holm Bradwell), and announces she wishes to sell the family home. Masha is the one who has been paying for its upkeep, while Sonia and Vanya have spent the past 15 years caring for their elderly parents, now deceased.
There were many laugh-out-loud moments in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Spike’s over-the-top reverse strip tease was outrageously comic, Cassandra’s warnings in her oddball soothsayer voice–“Beware the Ides of March…”–were silly and fun, and Vanya’s long-ish rant about technology and our loss of connection was fierce and energized.
The greatest part for me was Sonia being the Evil Queen with Maggie Smith’s voice. Deborah Jarvis actually became 100% Maggie Smith with her uppity British accent and celebrity posture. Kudos to Jarvis for the stand-out impression. She effectively steals Masha’s thunder in the family living room, and we hear later how she outshone Masha (for once!) at the costume party.
Costume designers Anna Pallotta and Mary Nowlan dressed the misfit family in a discerning manner, and Darlene Thomas did fantastic work with hair and makeup. Cassandra’s messy curls and crazy leggings went with her eccentric personality, while Spike’s red pants made him look like a man on fire. The neighbour Nina (Robyn Deverett) is all sweetness with her flowing hair and summer dress, and Masha shows superiority to her siblings even in her choice of sleepwear.
The best-dressed award goes to Sonia, of course. She’s frumpy and plain at the beginning of the story, thanks to outdated loose clothing, but she goes through a jaw-dropping metamorphosis for the costume party. She dons a royal blue evening gown that glitters, and with the confidence of her good looks, she carries herself like the world is at her fingertips. Yowza.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a silly, heartwarming story that gets lots of laughs. I give Christopher Durang’s delightful story a big thumbs up!
- Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is playing at Scarborough Village Theatre (3600 Kingston Rd at Markham Rd)
- Showtimes: March 8-10, 15-16 at 8 PM; March 11 and 17 at 2 PM
- Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office 416-267-9292 or online
- Ticket prices range from $20 to $24
- There is abundant free parking and the venue is wheelchair accessible
Photo by Thomas Kowal (front: Bradwell, Breen, Jarvis; back: Williamson, Deverett, Thompson)