Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

highly entertaining, superb acting


Editor’s Note: Diane Johnson’s byline was erroneously placed on a story about the Red Barn’s latest production in Wednesday’s Blast. This is Johnson’s review of Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike.




The caliber of the acting is superb in the Red Barn’s production of Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike. Key West audiences will be highly entertained by this delightfully intelligent comedy.


Award winning playwright Christopher Durang has written a compelling comedy with sparkling dialogue complemented by an air of melancholy.  The characters were perfectly cast in their roles reflecting a family whose history is poignant but masked. Underneath all the superficiality, each personality comes to grips with their real challenges. Every character was flawed but lovable, each one in their own way.


Gordon Mackey delivers a remarkable performance as he transitions from the dour older brother into a deeply feeling creature whose true character emerges by the end of the production.


Myra Negron played Cassandra, who acted as the prophet and served up giant helpings of comic relief. Her frenetic performance was an interesting counter balance to the self-consumed sister Masha, played by Marjorie Paul Shook. The playful energy emanating from Marjorie fairly glowed on the stage.


Rebecca Gleason, the other sister and gloomy old maid, portrayed Sonia. She was presented with an opportunity for growth and decides to take the bull by the horns. Rebecca shined as the downtrodden adopted child who rose to the occasion and turned a costume party into the opportunity of a lifetime. Her timing and delivery were delightful and spot on.


Both sisters have led such dramatically different lives and yet ended up in the same place, disillusioned and crying over what has happened to them. The lesson here is that in spite of all the traumas we may encounter in our lives, and imagined slights we may perceive, the human spirit will overcome those roadblocks and the truth will prevail.


Sarah Bella makes her Key West debut, playing the innocent young Nina whose beautiful voice and graceful presence created a lovely counterpart to the family drama being played out. She cast a bright light on the brother and sister, allowing the real Vanya and Sonia to emerge. Spencer Gates is thrilled to be in Key West, and we are happy this Equity actor is back in town. As the boy toy for Masha, he was a convincing young star and party boy yearning for a major part.


Joy Hawkins has directed this magnificent production now playing at the Red Barn Theatre. This show is a must-see performance not to be missed.


Playwright Durang is the manager of the Julliard Playwriting program and was recently inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. The dialogue was fabulous and the actors were equal to the task. Kudos to Carmen Rodriguez, who outdid herself with Cassandra’s costume.


Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is playing now through March 1 at the Red Barn Theatre located at 319 Duval St. in Key West. For tickets contact the box office at 305-296-9911 or on line at:

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