“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is a glorious sparkling comedy which has ignited the Ustinov Summer season.
The UK premier of one of the most lauded Broadway plays of recent years is directed by Walter Bobbie, and blends Chekhov’s famous ennui with modern-day pressures of celebrity, social networking and growing old into a production of tremendous fun and outstanding performances.
We meet Vanya and his sister Sonia who live a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they grew up and from where their sister Masha escaped many years ago to become a famous movie star.
When Masha returns unannounced with her twenty-something toy boy, Spike, so begins a rollicking weekend of rivalry, regret and all too true premonitions.
Mark Hadfield (Vanya) and Rebecca Lacey (Sonia) are perfect anchors in the storm of family relationships.
Both sharing heart-breaking honesty, down to earth crazy and also truly lamenting the loss of youth and love which as carers for their parents simply passed them by. Their relationship is palpable and full of integrity. Lacey has a magnetic presence which soars once the party spirit hits.
Janie Dee is in fine form as Masha, the successful sister, now a recognisable movie star whose anxieties are as evident as her poor choice in men.
She prowls around her hapless but desperately attractive toy boy prey, Spike (Lewis Reeves). She lashes out at the young Nina (Aysha Kala) and anyone who challenges her fragile throne.
For Chekhov fans there are depths of reference that will tickle and delight. For those less familiar with him then it categorically does not matter.
This is a superb cast, whilst Act 1 feels stronger in purpose, this is a fine play and another jewel in the ever growing Ustinov crown.
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Reviewer: Petra Schofield
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, directed by Walter Bobbie, is showing at the Ustinov Studio in Bath until Saturday 6th July 2019.
For more information, and tickets, visit the Theatre Royal website.