Saturday, August 13, 2016

Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike

It’s Thursday night, so we’re off to the theatre again. Tonight we’re going to see Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. This is a New Zealand production of a 2013 Broadway play.

But first, dinner. We thought we’d try somewhere we’d not been to before, so a quick flick through the Entertainment app got me as far as Ancestral. This is a modern Chinese restaurant on Courtenay Place, and thought we’d give it a try. It has a cocktail bar attached, which we eschewed and went straight in to the dinner. Maybe next time. We ordered the dim sum selection to share as a starter, then duck in lettuce cups and banana prawns with iron goddess of mercy tea leaves (yes, this was a new one on us too), and green beans with ground pork and preserved vegetables. It was all quite tasty, but the table for two was far too small for their dishes, so we ended up being a bit cramped. Especially as we had to peel prawns, have a separate dish for shells, and a finger bowl. The service though was very good – an Eastern European waiter who was very knowledgeable. We do finally seem to have got away from the idea that waiters in ethnic restaurants must be of that ethnicity.

We arrived with plenty of time (unlike last time we were at Circa) and took our places. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is based around three siblings, and as the names might suggest, there are echoes of Chekhov throughout in the themes and relationships in the play. As my knowledge of Chekhov is largely limited to him saying “yes captain” and “where do you keep your nucular wessels?” it’s possible that some of the references went over my head. The action had been transplanted to the USA (I assume Chekhov's plays are set in Russia?) However it was quite humorous in a play-ey kind of way – somewhat contrived, and you kinda knew where it was going to end up. But it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey, and it contained some good lines, some histrionic sub-plotting, and was generally quite enjoyable. Well, I enjoyed it, anyway. Wellington regular Gavin Rutherford was in the Vanya role, and I’m sure I’ve seen some of the others in various productions.

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