Panache Productions, Springfield, MA
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through May 17, 2015
by Mary Gibb
Panache Productions has brought the quartet of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," a Tony award winning play, to Springfield.
Director John McKemmie begins Act I with Vanya and Sonia, squabbling siblings living in the family farmhouse. Neither is married; both are frustrated with life, yet their bantering stimulates the audience into howls of laughter.
Sister Masha, a flamboyant, out of work actress arrives unannounced and more hilarity ensues. She brings along her very young boyfriend who is a vain wannabe actor played by Jeremy Thayer, who delivers a clever twist with his tushie shaking antics. Surprisingly, hilariously, and literally, the happenings onstage put the characters in fairy tale costumes.
Carol Palmer (Masha) has boundless energy and enthusiasm in playing her roll. Linda McLaren (Sonia) does her part justice as a frustrated unhappy woman devoting her life to become her parents’ caretaker. Rock Palmer (Vanya) is the fiftyish brother who squandered his life as caretaker of his parents, and hasn’t worked in years. Marie McCutchen (Nina), an innocent youth thing, portrays her character a little too innocently.
The highlight performance is by Karen Bellavance-Grace (Cassandra) as the Russian accented, fortune telling cleaning lady, who sails across the stage with energetic dance moves all the while chanting and predicting what truths are about to be revealed. Her theatrical quotations and dialogue are interspersed with devilish grins. Her costumes sparkled and dazzled.
The pace, in Act II slows down particularly when Vanya’s monologue takes what seems like innumerable time. The play is comedic, heart-warming, and delightfully enjoyable.