Thursday, December 26, 2013

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (5)

I desperately want to see this play. Like with many plays, much is lost in translation when you merely read it. How different to see Sigourney Weaver as aging star Masha lamenting being cast as a grandmother and getting paid less than she did in her glory days then to read a faceless character you are somewhat ambivalent towards. I never connect as well to a play I'm reading unless there's a character I desperately want to play that I am imagining myself being.

And yet, it is funny. It is both current, three aging siblings considering their lives, and the state of global warming and the world in general, and ancient, with Cassandra, their maid, a modern version of The Cassandra, from Agamemnon touting prophesies at each turn of the page. Spike is the only character firmly routed in the current world while Vanya, Sonia, Masha, and Nina are all Chekhovian. I would love to hear reactions from someone with less knowledge of classic theatre, and also the reaction of someone who understood EVERYTHING. Who knows The Sea-Gull and The Cherry Orchard and The Three Sister like I know The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones.

Did I give it five stars because it's a Tony Award winner, and who am I to argue with the pros? Probably. But it also gave this 25-year-old a glimpse into the minds of those older than me. It did what all great art should do: it helped me understand a person different then myself. It may be funnier to someone who understands more Chekhov, but it made me want to dive back in and read Chekhov, and how many works can state that?

Most of all, I loved how beautifully Christopher Durang discussed the idea of a shared memory between the generations. How does a grandparent converse with a texting, tweeting teenager? What do they have in common? There are thousands of shows and everyone has their own tastes and opinions firmly staked, what can we all discuss?

"The Ed Sullivan Show was on...Richard Burton and Julie Andrews would sing songs from Camelot. It was wonderful. It helped theatre be part of the national consciousness, which it isn't anymore."

And yet, NBC aired a live television broadcast of The Sound of Music this year. Maybe it was in response to the production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and perhaps it wasn't, but it was so popular that they are absolutely doing it again next year. Please, please do NBC! But maybe cast Audra as the lead this time? Or at least Lea Michele. Pretty please?  

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