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Coping and Laughing With Uncle Vanya

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Coffee cups crashing to the floor upset a tranquil Bucks County morning at the opening of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike the hilarious new
Christopher Durang play now running at the Golden Theatre on Broadway. Vanya played by David Hyde Pierce has upset his sister Sonia played by Kristine Nielsen and she has thrown not one but two cups of Joe down on the floor. You see she's having a bit of a bad day already and this is just her way of coping. Coping and the art of trying to cope are at the heart of this very funny and very touching play.

Vanya and Sonia are living in their family home long after their parent's death while their sister Masha has become a famous actress. It's her upcoming visit that sets the drama in motion and as their aptly named clairvoyant housekeeper Cassandra warns, "beware the ides of March!" to which Vanya replies, "It's August." She's right to warn them as Masha has plans to sell the estate. Sigourney Weaver as Masha is great as she comes into the room larger than life with her 20-something boy toy Spike, played by Billy Magnussen, in tow.

Sonia feels invisible when Masha enters the room. She feels she hasn't lived her life. She's stayed behind to care for her parents even though she is adopted -- which Vanya thinks is most admirable. She's living a life not lived and is played with great comedic timing as well as heartbreak by Kristen Nielsen. Her show-stopping monologue in the second act when she gets a call from an eligible bachelor is incredibly touching. She deserves a Tony for this performance. Not to be outdone Vanya's monologue about change is manic and hysterical. In Sonia and Vanya's eyes Masha has made it, but in reality she hasn't been able to connect to anyone and she's just as damaged.

Anton Chekhov runs rampant through the play -- Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard -- but it's Chekov on Prozac. No one is shooting themselves and no one pines for the past in Moscow. Instead it's a very funny look at getting older and trying not to fall apart -- but falling apart just the same.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is now playing at the Golden Theatre

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