TRU’s Actors Workshop Theatre started its school year season with the comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. It’s an unconventional show surrounding three middle-aged siblings, who have a love-hate relationship with each other. The play is directed by Heidi Verwey, a TRU faculty member. Verwey did a great job pulling the show together in a classic, yet comical, manner.
The first 10 minutes of this production changed any expectations I may have had before walking into this show. The play was unafraid of making the audience question the sanity of these characters. Between morning coffee gone terribly wrong and psychic predictions, this production was hilarious and dug deep into the relationships of its characters and their mid-life crisis.
Sonia, played by third-year theatre major Shannon Cooper, is depressed and can often be found in a manic state. Sonia was adopted into the family at a young age and never quite felt like she belonged, and she is now left with this overall uncertainty of what to do with life and how to start living again. Cooper did an amazing job with this part as we find her portraying an array of emotions and can see the growth in her character from start to finish.
Vanya, played by Erik Stephany, a fourth-year theatre major, is in a similar situation. Although Vanya was born into the family he lives in their childhood home with Sonia and they both feel that they missed out on the chance to live life because they stayed home to take care of their parents. Stephany portrays the character as falsely wise and gives a commendable performance for the role.
Masha, played by fourth-year psychology major Pamela Tulliani, has come back from her glamorous acting career with her new boyfriend Spike to visit her siblings. Masha did not stay to take care of her parents in their elderly age, but rather went off to pursue her dream of being an actress. Now with a successful acting career and many failed marriages, she returns home with her much younger boyfriend Spike. Tulliani gave an exaggerated and dramatic performance that was quite fitting for the character.
This show toyed with an overall theme of the mediocrity that can often consume people’s life. Which is especially prevalent in the three middle-aged siblings, as the characters repeatedly worry and wonder if their life is really over before they had a chance to live or maintain a healthy love life.
The other actors in this production were just as wonderful and often provided the most laughs. With Berlin Msiska as Spike, Elizabeth King as Nina and Mariana Makulkina as Cassandra, this play came with variety and actors with serious potential.
The set was simple, well-made and put to good use in terms of staging and direction. My main complaint with this production is that they didn’t let me take the adorable dog Kiwi home with me.
You can catch the next round of performances for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike on Oct. 20 to Oct. 22. The show starts promptly at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $14. The tickets can be purchased at the box office in Old Main or by calling 250-377-6100.