Totally Satisfying Theater

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Totally Satisfying Theater

Amy Van Nostrand and Kraig Swartz in VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE. Photographer: Pedro Zepeda.
Amy Van Nostrand and Kraig Swartz in VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE. Photographer: Pedro Zepeda.

I like good movies, but I love good plays even more And one of the finest plays I have seen all season is right now at The Gulfshore Playhouse down in Naples. “Vanya, and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang.

What is that extra something that a play can give that a film can’t? For me, It’s the intimacy, the bigger than life happening that fills the theater, and that is something just fifty feet away from where you are sitting. Perhaps the fact that the mirror held up for you to look at is so present, the scene doesn’t go away and in an enthralling way, you are trapped to deal with it.

What joy it was to be trapped by this all-star Equity cast in a Tony Award (2013) play from the pen of a gifted playwright, and all woven into a totally satisfying evening of theater by one of the very best directors in S.W. Florida.

I urge you to get tickets, fast, for “Vanya and Sonia, etc” by Christopher Durang at The Gulfshore Playhouse. I have seen the play twice before this production, but I’ve never seen it done better. It just crackles and shines, grabbing the audience into the galloping story that unfolds.

It’s a comedy all right. Some of the funniest surprising lines had the audience roaring. It’s a nutty play, but way beyond farce. Durang, over his long career, knows how to build individual unique characters into a plot that sizzles, surprises and knocks you over the head, occasionally, with reality, forcing you to look into some of life’s biggest questions. Have I wasted my life? Just what have I accomplished as the end of my time here creeps closer to an end?

But, it’s not overly grim. Yes, the questions are asked, amid a hilarious tangle of these lives we come to know, and even cherish. The cast was chosen by a deft hand, Kristen Coury, the brilliant director. There’s not one of these Equity actors who doesn’t deliver the magic. That’s pretty rare. Coury’s hand is wisely present. Nothing goes over the top and the nuances each actor brings to the event are utterly delightful. Director Coury put a quote from Anais Nin in the Playbill’s ‘Director’s Notes.” ‘And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.’

Know that this is one of my “Must See’s.” It will be an evening I anticipate where you will not have wanted to be any other place but seeing what happens to Vanya, Masha, Sonia, Spike, Cassandra, the whirling dervish, soothsaying cleaning lady, and the young actress, Nina, fawning over Sonia a celebrity movie star. The standing ovation was so loud, I knew the audience was satisfied the way I was. I predict a sell out, so get on the phone or get to the website and book your tickets as soon as you can. It only runs until Feb. 8th.

I hope you, too, like movies, but, I hope even more that you love live theater the way I do. Call 1.866.811.4111 or www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org Let this be one of the plays you love.

by Sidney B. Simon  THEATER NOTES