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By Kathy Carpenter 

September 1, 2023 (La Mesa) - "Silence is rest for the mind," says Masha - a thought that rings true when pondered upon. With any kind of sound, your mind engages in interpretation. Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa is currently staging the uplifting comedy, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike." For years, I resisted watching this play due to its seemingly unappealing title. I stand corrected. This production turned out to be uproariously funny and while San Diego hosts numerous humorous shows, not many prompt genuine, laugh-out-loud reactions. "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" is an exception.

In case you're curious, Vanya and Masha were named by their parents after Chekhov's characters. Sonia, adopted into the family, and Spike, an actor, complete the quartet. The play orbits around the characters, the brainchildren of directors Eddy Lucocic and Tyler Richards Hewes, brought to life by the exceptional cast.

Vanya, portrayed by the splendid Anthony Zelig, is a middle-aged man leading a rather ordinary life with his adoptive sister Sonia in their childhood home. Introspective and often lost in contemplation, Vanya muses on the passage of time. Sonia, embodied by the incredibly funny Rhiannon McAfee, exudes a melancholic charm. Her life is a testament to sacrifices and missed opportunities, which she wears proudly. Sonia's sensitivity and yearning for a more exhilarating life kindle a journey of self-discovery and unforeseen growth. McAfee also masterfully handles an English accent.

Masha, brought to life by the talented Melanie Mino, the biological sibling of Vanya and Sonia, is a glamorous, self-absorbed actress. Her larger-than-life presence invariably captures the room's attention. Amidst the comedy, Masha's struggles with identity and the challenges of aging in a youth-obsessed industry unveil moments of vulnerability. As for Spike, a striking, self-assured young man, he is Masha's current love interest. Handsome and carefree, Spike's lack of depth is often overshadowed by his looks and demeanor. His presence infuses youthful exuberance into the mix, sparking desires and tensions that disrupt household dynamics. Cody Dupree's portrayal of Spike deserves commendation. His performance impresses me more with each viewing, as he elevates the role to newfound heights, incorporating a bold sensuality that pushes the show into a racy category.

The backdrop is August 2012 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This leads to the set itself - the cozy abode of Vanya and Sonia. The true star is undoubtedly the vivid rock fireplace. hand-painted by David Gallagher. Its lively stones held me captive, repeatedly drawing my gaze.

Allow this rendition of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" to be your personal remedy. A must-see come savor the performance and bring along a friend.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Through September 17, 2023

Lamplighters Community Theatre, La Mesa

Opening Oct. 13:  Deathtrap - a thriller by Ira Levin


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