Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, with Bond 45

Billy Magnussen and Sigourney Weaver
References to Chekhov’s Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya are sprinkled over a fresh family drama set in Bucks County, PA, including, “Oh, Olga, let’s go to Moscow!”  But we’re firmly in Christopher Durang-land. Film star Masha (Sigourney Weaver) returns home to announce that she is selling the lake-view family house where her siblings, Vanya and the adopted Sonia (David Hyde Pierce and Kristine Nielsen), have been quarreling comfortably for years.

Shalita Grant is the housekeeper, Cassandra, who predicted this would happen. Kristine Nielsen’s Sonia lives for the sighting of the blue heron on the lake. Pushed to extremes, Nielsen’s Sonia keeps the audience under her wing. Hyde Pierce is glacially calm and understated until he explodes. Everyone gets a satisfying chance to go nuts before it’s over.

They regress all the way to childhood and back, everyone except for Masha’s much younger boyfriend, Spike, played as epically inappropriate by Billy Magnussen. Could the part of Masha possibly be as cool without Sigourney Weaver’s insouciant smile? Oh, Sigourney, let’s go to Moscow!

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike touches on upstairs-downstairs dynamics, sibling rivalry, and the effects of aging as a family fences with and lusts after one another. Durang wrote the play, which was first performed Off-Broadway in 2012, with these actors in mind.

Bond 45 Prosciutto and Buratta
Bond 45, which seats 220, advertises on a billboard above Theatre Row, with a menu that includes paper-thin designer pizzas and the flat “lasagna” made from the hard-to-handle fazzoletto (handkerchief) pasta. Soft-shell crab had a creamy sauce on top that was Paula Deen-ish calorically. Their 16 oz. homemade Buratta is delectable surrounded by colorful, grilled antipasto-bar vegetables.
The mezzanine offered a spectacular view of the massive restaurant. It seems a good place to go on your own – many people were solitary and contented. Such a big place, it can be spaced out and unusually quiet, preventing that curse of the solo diner – unintentional eavesdropping on the people at the next table. Homemade brittle and cookies hot from the oven are offered as you say farewell.

Artist of Light: iLuminate is the idea of Miral Kotb, who combined her talents as a choreographer and software engineer to make a special-effects, techno party-like event. It is parent-friendly, with cocktails served at your seat. Special effects we gasped over: a giant dog, exchangeable heads, a dancing paintbrush, and floating bodies. Children relate to the sheer power and physicality of Kotb’s team. Performers don’t exit the stage so much as disappear.

There is, loosely speaking, a plot. Our young critic, Arden Wolfe, age 7, understood it better than we did. Arden liked “the girl with orange hair and red lips, who fell in love at the end, and the evil guy, who turned two squiggly men into porcupines.” She also admired, as we did, the “glow-y costumes.”
Root beer float at Junior's

Junior’s Times Square opened in 2006 so that Manhattanites could have a taste of this Brooklyn institution, famous for its cheesecake and pastrami and corned beef sandwiches on rye, served with complimentary coleslaw, beets and pickles. A Reuben with a side of Russian dressing hit the spot. Arden’s root beer float was “perfect,” the mac and cheese quickly consumed, and pronounced, “Creamy, creamy, creamy.”

Centrally located in the theatre district, Junior’s has quick service, reasonable prices, and outdoor seating for warm weather. Your kids will thank you.