Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike declares its origins early on. Call it Chekhov with a twist.
"The title gives you a very strong indication by adding the word 'Spike' in there," says visiting director Jonathan Moscone who's heading up the Alley Theatre production of the 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Play by Christopher Durang.
The two hour, 20 minute comedy has the same big range of emotions that playwright Anton Chekhov employed. But don't worry; you don't have to understand The Cherry Orchard or any other Chekhov works to follow this play, Moscone assures us.
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In fact, the premise is one that will resonate with any adult dealing with responsibilities and what to do with a life after the main purpose of your actions has been removed. Vanya (Alley company resident actor Jeffrey Bean) and sister Sonia (Sharon Lockwood) have been taking care of their parents, living in their house, while sister Masha (Josie de Guzman) has escaped to a film career while helping them financially.
The parents died a few years back, but the two siblings have stalled and remain there. "They're not in a hurry," Moscone says. Now Masha has returned for a costume party, accompanied by a much younger boyfriend named Spike (company artist Jay Sullivan), and conflicts, of course, ensue.
There are other characters, including Nina (Sarah Nealis, making her Alley debut) who unlocks the creative energy of Vanya. "They're rattled,. Suddenly they're revived. They have to get on with their lives and that's actually a great thing," Moscone says. "This play believes you can reignite your creativity, your sexuality, your imagination with a sense of hope."
Preview performances of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike start May 23 with opening night scheduled for May 28. The play closes June 15. 7:30 Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The Alley's Hubbard Stage, 615 Texas Avenue. For information call 713.220.5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26-$78.