Mindy Lucas

Hilton Head theater company takes on “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”

Lean Ensemble’s latest production “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” runs from May 5-8 at the Hilton Head Preparatory School Main Street Theatre.
Lean Ensemble’s latest production “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” runs from May 5-8 at the Hilton Head Preparatory School Main Street Theatre. thefrenchguy photography

Sibling rivalry, familial responsibilities and even technological overkill are at the center of a new Lean Ensemble production coming up this week on Hilton Head Island.

The theater company will close out its first full season with the Tony award-winning comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by the American playwright Christopher Durang.

The play builds its tension around the strained family dynamic — a tension that director and company founder Blake White said will keep the audience entertained.

“Masha feels like she’s doing her part and Sonia and Vanya feel like they’re doing their part,” White said. “And the audience feels like everyone is doing their part.”

Masha feels like she’s doing her part and Sonia and Vanya feel like they’re doing their part. And the audience feels like everyone is doing their part.

Blake White, director

With nods to the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, the comedy introduces us to three middle-age siblings. Vanya and Sonia, who have taken care of their now-deceased parents for most of their lives, are resentful of their glamorous movie star sister Masha, whose career has paid for the family’s home and bills.

The way things used to be versus the way things are now is at the heart of Durang’s play, White said.

That theme can be seen in a lengthy and impassioned monologue toward the end of the play after Vanya is set off by Spike, Masha’s boy-toy L.A. boyfriend. Vanya waxes endlessly and anxiously on everything from the pervasiveness of technology to the sense that childhood and innocence are now quaint ideas from a bygone era.

“Once the audience in Hilton Head hears that monologue, they’ll want to create a citywide holiday for that character,” White said.

But before you go away thinking this is a lot of highbrow, intellectual humor, White said everyone should give “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” a chance.

“There are (both) inside and outside jokes,” he said. “The scholar and the layman can really have a great time enjoying this.”

Taking on a comedy and ending the season on a humorous note is something the relatively new theater company wanted to do after putting on two heavier productions —“Glass Menagerie” and “The Waverly Gallery” — earlier in its season, White said.

“I'm very proud and excited about it,” he said. “There’s always room for a comedy.”

If You Go

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” runs May 5-7, at the Hilton Head Preparatory School Main Street Theatre, 3000 Main Street, Hilton Head Island.

Audience “talk backs” with members of lean ensemble will follow each show.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. May 5 through May 7 and 2 p.m. May 8.

Tickets are $40; $35 for the Sunday matinee. Discounts for students and active military are available.

For details call 843-715-6676 or visit www.leanensemble.org.

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