Sibling farce opens Between Shifts season 

Tony Award-winning Broadway farce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is funny and touching, says director

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Two sisters, a brother and a cutie pie Squamish's Between Shifts Theatre Company is performing the Tony-winning Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
  • PHOTO submitted
  • Two sisters, a brother and a cutie pie Squamish's Between Shifts Theatre Company is performing the Tony-winning Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

Chekov does rural Pennsylvania in the latest play performed by Between Shifts Theatre Company.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a Tony Award-winning Broadway farce by playwright Christopher Durang.

"It's really, really funny, but it has also got great, touching moments in the show. I look at it as an absurd family comedy," says the play's director, Michael Hewitt.

"It's about the way siblings behave when they are reunited. There's a lot of deep stuff that the three siblings — Vanya, Sonya and Masha — go through. Spike tags along as Masha's toy boy."

Between Shifts has embraced the farce as a form it regularly turns to for productions; it has proved a popular choice with audiences.

"Comedy seems to work very well in Squamish and the Sea to Sky. I think it's a dark world sometimes and everybody just needs a laugh," Hewitt says.

"People feel more faith going out and watching something that they know will not make them melt down or anything.

"I gravitate towards comedies and it shows in the ticket sales."

In the story, adult siblings Vanya and Sonya live in the family home, mourning lost dreams and missed opportunities. When their Cassandra-like maid warns of doom and their movie-star sister Masha turns up with her young boyfriend, the family reverts to their old ways.

The aim of Durang as playwright, says Hewitt, is to blend Russian great Anton Chekov's ennui with modern hang-ups.

"We do the deeper stuff, of course, we did The Glass Menagerie a while ago and we did Art, which was a comedy with serious undertones, and we're doing a great play in the season coming up called Kayak. A very interesting piece," he says.

"The company hangs on to those dramas. But it's good to start the season off with this show, a parody."

The cast includes Rod Neufeld as Vanya, Kathy Daniels as Sonia, Carla Fuhre as Mash and Todd Weitzel as Spike.

"There is a lot to be said about community theatre. I like to think that we bring to the table work that is just as good as some of the equity productions in and around the big city," says Hewitt.

"I do professional work in Vancouver as well, and I can tell you that Between Shifts brings quite a professional version of Canadian theatre."

As well as the cast, local people have supported the production behind stage, including Producer Christine Gavin-Bartlett, Production Stage Manager Tea Stefiuk, Costume Designer Christa Duttchen, Composer Darrell Booth, Props manager Barbara Stover, and Scenic Lead Carpenter Christopher French.

The play runs from Thursday, Oct. 6 to 8, and from Oct. 12 to 15. Tickets range from $10 to $20 and are available online at, or in person in Squamish at Billie's Flowers or InBiz.


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