‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ at the Gladstone

Chris Ralph as Vanya, Mary Ellis as Sonia and Teri Loretto-Valentik as Masha. Promotional photos by David Whiteley. 

It is going to take a lot to convince people that on a beautiful sunny, warm day that the place to be is inside a theatre watching a play.  However, that is exactly where you should be at some point this weekend to see Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at the Gladstone.

VSMS - Chris Ralph, Bev Wolfe - photo by David Whiteley
Cassandra the cleaning lady (Bev Wolfe) reveals one of her prophecies to Vanya (Chris Ralph).

Every once in a while a play comes along and sweeps you off your feet.  This was one of them. Everything about it is wonderful and it was only after seeing it that I realized it had won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play, which is always a good sign. The dialogue is witty, creative and wildly engaging.

Vanya (played by Chris Ralph)and his adopted sister Sonia (played by Mary Ellis) are living a quiet life in their Pennsylvania farmhouse where they grew up, having done their duty in looking after ailing parents while their sister Masha (Teri Loretto-Valentik) travelled the world as a movie star. Just as their quirky cleaning woman (Bev Wolfe) issues a warning about terrible events in their future, overbearing, self-absorbed Masha returns for an unannounced visit with her 20-something boy-toy Spike (Drew Moore).  Sweet, young aspiring actress neighbour Nina, (Sarah Finn) shows up on the scene as well, innocently looking for acting tips.

The play explores family dynamics, sibling rivalry and human insecurity in both touching and hilarious ways.  Every scene is captivating and entertaining, as you wait to see what crazy antics the cleaning lady Cassandra will foresee, what ridiculous statements Spike will come up with and just how selfish Masha can be, all the while feeling bad for Sonia and her touching insecurities.

As the whole family heads to a party, including Nina, unexpected results ensue for all involved. In the end, however, everything is resolved beautifully and in a moving way, leaving the audience with a heart-warming feeling that ‘all’s well that ends well.’

The acting is superb without exception. Do not miss this play as it is one of the Ottawa theatre season’s highlights.

For more details and showtimes, visit thegladstone.ca.