It’s an accessible interpretation of the great Anton Chekhov’s work told through a modern lens.
That’s what happens when Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike takes the Powerhouse Theatre stage.
Durang’s production, brought to Vernon by Powerhouse mainstay Kristine Larson in her full-length directorial debut, follows two siblings, Vanya (John Lomas) and Sonia (Adele Kuyek) whose humdrum and rather Chekhovian lives are turned upside down upon the arrival of their sister Masha (Heather Boyd) and her much younger boy-toy and physical specimen Spike (Matt Brown).
Vanya, put to purpose on the stage by Lomas, is the apparent glue that holds this symbolic trio of familial dysfunction together. Lomas, likewise, is a commanding presence on stage. As his character dictates, Lomas begins the comedic two-hour romp as a funny but rather quiet character. Everything changes as Lomas delivers a several minute monologue with panache capable of putting both his character and himself in the spotlight.
From Kuyek’s portrayal of the production’s most frustrated character to Boyd’s over-the-top antics and Brown’s hilarious physicality, all six on-stage cast members were on point for the show’s Feb. 18 preview night.
Cassandra, brought to life by Powerhouse newcomer Brianne Kiefiuk, is the manor’s psychic housekeeper turned cook who, alongside Brown and his numerous strip teases, is at the helm of the show’s physical comedy. It may have been her debut, but Kiefiuk stood toe-to-toe with the Powerhouse veterans and was able to shine. It’s unlikely that Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be her last performance.
Delaney Bowman, who embodies the up-and-coming actress Nina, is in a similar situation to Kiefiuk. A Powerhouse newbie, Bowman has been involved in community theatre since she was 11-years-old. Like Kiefiuk, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will not be her last time in the Vernon spotlight.
On the surface, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is an enjoyable comedy. Dig a little deeper, and it’s all about “what ifs,” opportunities that have come and gone and one’s path in life.
Larsen said it best in her director’s message.
“The themes of Durang’s characters ring true. Believe in your own potential. Seize opportunity. Take chances on yourself and others. And do something, anything,” Larsen wrote. “As this lovely play shows us, it’s never too late.”
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike runs at Powerhouse Theatre until March 2. Tickets range from $22 to $28 and are available through the Ticket Seller, www.ticketseller.ca, 250-549-7469.