Country comedy reprises County talent
Change is difficult. That’s the message in Christopher Durang’s comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. The Prince Edward Community Theatre (PECT) production was a smart, silly story of three siblings coming to terms (or not) with their age, the realities of a modern world and their egos.
Vanya and Sonia, played by Kyle Watson and Lori Farrington, play a brother and sister who had moved back to their parents’ home to look after them, and stagnated after their parents’ death. Meanwhile, their glamorous movie-star sister, Masha, played by Anne Heathcote, who pays the bills, has returned home with a boy-toy, Spike, played by Josh Lambert.
Masha, who is too old to snag the highpaying Hollywood roles, has decided to sell the house, a move that would put her siblings out in the cold.
As the interventions of their bizarre maid, Cassandra, played by Cheryl Singer, and the introduction of the young and beautiful ingénue Nina, played by Ruth Laliberte, throw Masha off, Vanya and Sonia fight to keep things as they are.
Durang’s play is a loving ode to the works of playwright Anton Chekhov, with references to his style sprinkled in, and Nina insisting on calling her neighbour Uncle Vanya.
The final show of PECT’s ninth season was directed by one of the theatre group’s founders, Patrick Larkin.
Larkin joined the production after it had been cast, replacing a different director. It was the cast that attracted him to the piece, rather than the play itself.
Watson and Farrington have recently ramped up their involvement in community theatre after some absence. In Watson’s case, he hadn’t participated for seven years. His comeback has been welcomed.
“These were all people that I’ve worked with in the past. I think one of the greatest attractions was Lori Farrington and Kyle Watson, back together on stage. They have been stalwarts in the theatre community down here for quite some time. Just to see the two of them together again on stage has been amazing.”
The script allowed for both Watson and Farrington to shine, with moments that highlighted their skills. Watson’s Vanya gave a brilliant tirade over his ire of the smartphone era and his nostalgia for times gone by. Farrington’s Sonia allowed her humanity to shine through in an unexpected phone call, cried violently, and gave an impressive Maggie Smith impression.
“Everybody was so talented, so the bar was set pretty high, and it’s a great script. We laughed a lot during rehearsals, and I had a really great time I had a really great time rehearsing. Whether people come to the show and laugh at the end, that’s kind of a bonus. And it’s nice if they’re coming in laughing,” says Farrington. “But we’ve been laughing for months.”