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1 Taranaki Street, Wellington | Box Office Ph: 04 801 7992
Duration: 6 Aug - 3 Sep
Price: $25 - $46
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Written by Christopher Durang
Directed Susan Wilson
Proudly supported by Paul & Danika McArthur


“… a delightfully entertaining production of an excellent play.” Ewen Coleman – Dompost

“ a wittily insightful play impeccably done” John Smythe – Theatreview

Winner – 2013 Tony award for Best Play

*****  Outer Circle Critics Award – Outstanding New Broadway Play

*****  Drama Desk Award – Best Play

*****  New York Drama Critics Circle Award – Best Play

*****  Off-Broadway Alliance Award – Best Play

New Zealand Premiere! Nominated for six Tony Awards® Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is one of the most lauded and beloved Broadway plays of recent years.

RIVALRY, REGRET, REVENGE, LUST – Just another family reunion in Bucks County!!!

Chekhov is alive and well in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where adult siblings Vanya and Sonia reside in their old family home, mourning their lost dreams and missed opportunities. When their often-wrong, fortune-telling maid warns of impending dangers, and their movie star sister, Masha, arrives unexpectedly with young, sexy, boy toy, Spike, the family is launched into a rollicking weekend of one-upmanship, exposed nerves, and a lot of broken mugs.

With wit and absurdity, Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike blends Chekhov’s famous ennui with the modern-day toils and troubles of celebrity, social networking and age into a laugh-out-loud comedy that will tickle your funny bone and stimulate your mind.


The all-star cast includes: Emma Kinane, Rachel Henry, Simon Leary, Harriet Prebble, Erina Daniels and Chapman Tripp Award winner, Gavin Rutherford.

Emma Kinane

Emma Kinane

Gavin Rutherford

Gavin Rutherford

Rachel Henry

Rachel Henry

Simon Leary

Simon Leary

Harriet Prebble

Harriet Prebble

Erica Daniels

Erica Daniels





  • 6 Aug – 3 Sep
    Tues – Wed 6.30pm
    Thurs – Sat 8pm
    Sun 4pm


    Length: 2 hours plus 15 Minute interval.

    • Full: $46.00
    • Seniors/ Students: $38.00
    • Friends of Circa: $33.00
    • Groups 6+: $39.00
    • Groups 20 +: $36.00
    • Under 25s: $25.00
  • Theatre Review: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

    Circa's production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a well-performed take on a clever and witty play.


    Circa’s production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a well-performed take on a clever and witty play.

    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike 

    By Christopher Durang 

    Directed by Susan Wilson

    Circa Theatre, until September 3

    Many could mistakenly think that the latest play at Circa Theatre, Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, is a modern take on a Chekhovian play.

    And although it deals with the intricacies of family life with minimal plot and action, like a good Chekhov play does, and while some of the character names as well as ideas are taken from Chekov, Durang’s play is not a modern re-write or parody, but a very clever and witty piece of writing, described by Durang as Chekhovian characters and themes “put through a blender”.

    But through the humour, Durang is also able to articulate many ideas relevant today ,such as global warming and the absurdities of much of modern technology.

    The names in the title are the four main characters: Vanya (Gavin Rutherford) and Sonia (Rachel Henry) are brother and adopted sister living in the family home, while Masha (Emma Kinane) is their famous film star sister residing in New York with a toy boy called Spike (Simon Leary).

    Vanya and Sonia lead a fairly dull existence, sitting day after day in the morning room drinking coffee and looking out the window waiting for the blue heron to arrive on the pond.

    Their only excitement appears to be the weekly arrival of Cassandra (Erina Daniels), the eccentric cleaning lady.

    When Masha arrives unexpectedly one morning with Spike in tow, she causes the dynamics of Vanya and Sonia’s supposedly idyllic lifestyle to change dramatically, which is made more so when Spike returns from a swim in the pond with pretty young Nina (Harriet Prebble) from next door.

    While the first half is full of delightfully funny word play and interchanges between the characters, the second in contrast has moments of real poignancy as the revelations begin to unfold, particularly from Vanya, the observer and peacemaker, who suddenly does a huge big rant of self-revelation about himself and the world.

    All of which is delivered with wonderful nuance by Susan Wilson and her cast, who all delight in bringing Durang’s script alive in a well-orchestrated and highly polished production.

    In the role of Sonia, Henry captures perfectly the character’s put-upon remorsefulness, while the self-effacing Vanya, beset by guilt at being a closet queen, is also wonderfully portrayed by Rutherford.  The bitchiness of the stereotypical film star is well personified by Kinane, while Leary is in his element as the sexy, arrogant toy boy Spike.  And Daniels plays the eccentricities of the cleaning lady Cassandra to the max, while Prebble brings a delightful innocence to the character of Nina, making this a delightfully entertaining production of an excellent play.

     – Stuff


    Print Version

    By Christopher Durang
    Directed by Susan Wilson
    Presented by Circa Theatre
    Proudly supported by Paul & Danika McArthur

    at Circa One, Wellington
    Until 3 Sep 2016

    Reviewed by John Smythe, 8 Aug 2016


    Susan Wilson has waited three years for Circa to get the rights to Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and – having directed Chekhov’sThe Seagull (2000), The Cherry Orchard (2005) and Uncle Vanya (2007) – who better than her to direct this NZ premiere. And as usual she has assembled an ideal cast.

    The only Durang play Wellington has seen before now (as far as I know) is a 2007 Toi Whakaari production of Betty’s Summer Vacation, which grotesquely eviscerates the insatiable blood lust of popular-media audiences. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which won a Tony Award in 2013, is arguably his most successful play.

    Initially it may be regarded as an affectionate send-up of Chekhov’s most gloomy characters, as those who recognise the names Vanya and Sonia (from Uncle Vanya) and Masha (from Three Sisters) may anticipate. “If there had been antidepressants [in pre-Revolution Russia],” one of them notes, “Chekhov would have had nothing to write about.” Yet this is ‘the present’ (well, 2013) in Buck County, Pennsylvania, and Durang has no trouble mining a rich vein of comedy from their misery – and more comedy from the doom-laden prognostications of their Mexican cleaning woman Cassandra.

    Of course Dr Chekhov’s plays have always been regarded as comedies, at least in the classical sense of not leaving their stages bestrewn with dead bodies, and there is a school of thought that, in their earnest pursuit of Naturalism, Konstantin Stanislavsky’s Moscow Arts Theatre rather missed the fun of the good doctor’s comedic commentaries on the indulgence and angst of Russia’s out-of-touch middle-class. When British and colonial theatre discovered him, they too tended to be reverential. But recent productions have revelled in the comedy more, with the likes of Tom Stoppard offering new translations, and Durang – and Wilson and her cast – tune into that zeitgeist with alacrity. Hence our laughter is loud.

    It is not necessary to have an intimate knowledge of Chekhov’s characters to enjoy this play; indeed those who know them very well may balk at hearing Sonia utter Masha’s immortal line, “I am in mourning for my life” then feel bewildered when Masha proves to be a successful stage and screen actress with a hunky young actor –Spike – in tow. But the programme does quote the playwright’s note that his play is “not a Chekhov parody … Masha is more like Madame Arkadina inThe Seagull”, although Vanya and Sonia are certainly “Chekhovian” and Nina, the proverbial girl next door, is the most like her namesake in The Seagull.

    Gavin Rutherford (who has been almost constantly on one or other of Circa’s two stages this year) and Rachel Henry (who makes a welcome return to acting after many years of directing and writing) are a superb double-act as Vanya and Sonia, drawing us into their boredom and despair, as they wait for the blue heron (of happiness?) to return to the pond, with a truth and timing that renders their scenes achingly funny. It is entirely credible they have spent 44 years in the same house, since Sonia was adopted into the family aged eight. You could even call their opening scene smashing and I’ll leave it to you to find out why.

    Erina Daniels plays Cassandra to the hilt, as if consciously stirring the stagnant pot. I almost expect her to toss us the odd aside and even address us directly in her longer prophecies, as the original Greek character would have done. But the fourth wall’s short history began with naturalism so I guess it’s appropriate to contain her behind it.

    As the famous actress sister Masha, Emma Kinane plays the full gamut of manipulative emotions, even making us believe she is truly vulnerable at times. And if Cassandra takes us back to antiquity, the buff, self-absorbed and opportunistic Spike, realised with relish by Simon Leary, brings us into the new millennium, even if he is a latter-day Narcissus.

    Also of the millennial generation, Harriet Prebble’s wonderfully wide-eyed aspiring actress Nina is nevertheless of another world, given her fondness for the films of Ingmar Bergman. Each performance is a gem in a beautifully balanced diadem.

    Throw a costume party up the road, at “the Dorothy Parker House”, into the mix, along with the question of whether this family home, with its modest little orchard, will be sold or not, plus the revelation that Vanya has written an experimental play (not unlike Konstantin’s in The Seagull) and sparks fly-aplenty to generate the heart-felt comedy.

    It is a rant from Vanya directed at Spike that articulates the intergenerational comparisons and the commentary on ‘life the universe and everything’ that are threaded throughout the text to lift the play well beyond a theatrical in-joke. For me the nostalgia for a simpler and more truly connected life is surprisingly moving, despite the lack of attraction to Vanya and Sonia’s indolent lifestyle. For others it may be a source of wonderment that so much change has happened within a lifetime.

    John Hodgkins’ airy morning room set, with its cane furniture and easy flow to an outdoor garden, all bathed in daylight thanks to Lisa Maule’s lighting design, adds emphasis-by-contrast to the ‘mourning for my life’ bug that keeps afflicting Sonia and – yes – Masha too, eventually. I do wonder at the failure to use the samovar on the bookshelf, given taking tea is part of the action. Maybe it’s a conscious ‘Chekhov’s gun’ thing.

    Sheila Horton’s costumes are eloquently appropriate and Oliver Devlin’s musical arrangement sets the mood nicely.

    So how does it end? I won’t reveal that here except to say it differs somewhat from your standard Chekovian ending. And it leaves us wreathed in smiles at the great pleasure of experiencing a wittily insightful play impeccably done.

    Footnote: It should be noted that Sarah Delahunty’s 2b or nt 2b (2008) brought an emo Masha to Circa Two in 2014, and Dan Rebellato’s Chekhov in Hell played Circa Two in 2012.
    For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.

We get too few comedies on Broadway, much less ones with the breezy wit and satirical bite of the one. Like the play’s characters, I’M SO HAPPY THAT I CAN’T STOP COMPLAINING!” Time Out, NY

“It leaves the audience in tears of laughter! YOU might want to spend the rest of your life with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike!” – The Huffington Post

“The loudest laughter heard on broadway in many years! The audience roars with glee.” – The Toronto Star

“Both breathtakingly funny and quietly poignant, this Chekhov inspired work for which knowledge of the Russian master’s plays is not a requirement is pure joy from start to finish” – Erik Haagensen – Back Stage

“Durang shows us just how funny unhappiness can be” —The San Francisco Examiner

“A ton of fun even if you can’t tell your Seagull from your Uncle Vanya!”

“Sharp, merciless and hilarious!” – Philadelphia Inquirer

“A sublime state of hilarity!” – New York Magazine

“ZANY and utterly refreshing!” – Associated Press

“Roars from start to finish!”- Huffington Post