(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
Just when New York City can really use a laugh, along comes Christopher Durang's latest play, now in previews at Lincoln Center Theater. Durang stalwarts Kristine Nielsen (Sonia), David Hyde Pierce (Vanya) and Sigourney Weaver (Masha) are joined by newcomers Genevieve Angelson (Nina), Shalita Grant (Cassandra) and Billy Magnussen (Spike) in this riotous Chekhov mash-up with a touch of Aeschylus and Walt Disney. Instead of 19th-century Russia, the time is now and the place is an idyllic farmhouse in Bucks County, where middle-aged siblings Sonia and Vanya rue the meaninglessness of their lives. They are visited by their sister Masha, a famous movie star who owns the house and supports them, her current boy toy Spike, a feckless actor who undresses at every possible opportunity, and their neighbors' guest Nina, an eager young actress. And then there's the cleaning woman Cassandra, who has second sight and a way with voodoo dolls. Durang gives each character ample opportunity to shine. Their antics provide a multitude of laughs. Underlying all the humor is a tinge of regret over the loss of community in a society that no longer watches Ozzie and Harriet or licks postage stamps. Plot has never been the main thing for Durang, and it isn't here either. The humor occasionally flags and the play could profit from a little tightening. The set by David Korins is gorgeous and Emily Rebholz's costumes are delightful. Nicholas Martin's direction is fine. I haven't laughed that much in a long time. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes including intermission.