Like Uncle Vanya's Professor Serebryakov, Masha has decided to sell the property (which, of course, includes a small cherry orchard) out from under Sonia and Vanya. But never fear; Durangian events alter Chekhovian cases. Everyone has been invited to attend a costume ball, as Disney characters. And Vanya's written his own update of the play Konstantin writes in The Seagull, with global warming added. Did I mention that a lovely aspiring actress named Nina (Genevieve Angelson) conveniently happens to be visiting next door?

Everything goes wonderfully awry—for good, for ill, but mostly for comic effect. Durang uses Chekhov as a springboard, to bounce the old nuanced emotions into our new hurry-up world. The ongoing stylistic disjunction embodies the dislocation everyone over 40 feels, in this time when all reactions are instantaneous, and all cultural forms except theater are downloadable. The work's apex is a gigantic, deliciously self-contradictory rant by Vanya, triggered when he catches Spike texting (what else?) while the play's being read.

Hawke, Richardson, Hamlet references
Josh Lehrer
Hawke, Richardson, Hamlet references


By Anton Chekhov
Translated by Carol Rocamora
Classic Stage Company
136 East 13th Street

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
By Christopher Durang
Newhouse Theater
Lincoln Center

Nicholas Martin directs this mix of borscht and burgers stylishly. Nielsen and Weaver, twin caryatids of Durangian comedy, handle their high moments with élan, as do Magnussen and Grant. Only Angelson, given less opportunity, seems bland. But the remix, overall, is delicious: Thanks to Durang's awareness that he's not Chekhov, and mustn't try to be, his results have a non-imitative, genuinely Chekhovian feel.

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