Whenever I am blue, I can snap out of it conjuring Sigourney Weaver's image as Snow White. That was the take away when I saw Christopher Durang's Chekhovian mash up, Masha, Sonia, Vanya and Spike at Lincoln Center in December. Now the enterprise has moved to Broadway, its Sturm und Drang at a Bucks County country house on a pond successfully transported to The Golden Theater. Act I is a sendup of Chekhovian tropes with prescient views on real estate and familiar philosophical exclamations like "I'm in mourning for my life!" In Durang's whimsical mix master, as directed by Nicholas Martin, the tragic -- and neurotic -- circumstance of everyday life turns to high hilarity.
Weaver's character, Masha, a superstar action hero like Weaver herself -- in the Sexy Killer movies -- makes for a most vulnerable Snow White, too tall, her lips too thin, mistaken for Norma Desmond, BoPeep, a Meissen figure. Coming home to the house she was raised in with her boy toy, Spike (Billy Magnussen), whose sculptural six pack and muscular thighs should be preserved in the Smithsonian, this cougar is at the cusp of keeping up the sexual acrobatics, humping the house's pillars, while suffering this shallow hunk's wanderlust.
In addition to Weaver's superb comic Tony worthy performance, and Magnussen's athletic eye candy, the play features a standout ensemble including David Hyde Pierce, as Masha's brother Vanya, Doc in costume, who in Act II delivers a most resonant ode to the past, extolling the virtues of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, where, as here on the tranquil pond, nothing happens. Genevieve Angelson as Nina is a charming neighbor who morphs nicely into Dopey as well as an "ethereal" molecule. Shalita Grant as Cassandra, a cleaning lady cum seer, has a way of "seeing," unscrewing her body in a BOING moment: Beware of Hootie Pie, she shrieks, sticking pins into a Snow White voodoo doll.
Kristine Nielsen as whiny sister Sonia, the uh-less beautiful sister, refuses to attend the costume party as a dwarf and as the Evil Queen, channeling Maggie Smith going to the Oscars in a sequined evening gown. Christopher Durang said he knew this actress could do the dame's imitation and wrote in the detail for her.
To stay with the philosophical, what is a thrilling night at the theater? Overheard after a recent standing ovation: When you leave happier than when you came in.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.
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