Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

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Randolph College Theater put on a tremendous showing of the Christopher Durang play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.  This comedic story revolves around the lives of three middle-aged siblings (Vanya, Sonia, and Masha).  Vanya and Sonia live at home, while Masha is a relatively successful actress who helps pay for the house Vanya and Sonia live in.  Masha struggles with the fact that she is getting older and has much insecurity.  Her young lover, Spike, is an aspiring actor who really hasn’t been successful at all yet.  Though, he walks around like a big shot after almost landing a part in an HBO series.

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Photo Credit: Randolph College’s Office of College Relations.

Nina is Vanya and Sonia’s beautiful and sweet neighbor, who is an aspiring actress.  When she enters the scene Masha begins to act even more dramatic than she usually does because she knows this woman is much younger and beautiful.  Her worry is that Spike’s attention will go to Nina instead of her.  She essentially bullies Nina and it is quite noticeable.  Later on though, Masha warms up to Nina and becomes frustrated with Spike.

Cassandra is the crazy maid that helps take care of the house for Vanya and Sonia.  She believes in voodoo magic and has little episodes where she has visions, warning those around her of things to come.

To look at this play from a feminist perspective, one can point out the role of Spike in this play.  Spike is a heterosexual, white male who feels as though he can do whatever he pleases.  It’s easy for him to tease and mess around with Vanya who is an elder, gay white man.  He takes advantage of the fact that Vanya is a gay man and toys around with him, almost flirting with him.  Spike acts as though he’s better than Vanya and it is easy for him to take control of situations they are in together.  At one point, Spike is just walking around in his underwear.  In his role, this seems acceptable (even though the women looked appalled and Vanya seemed to enjoy it).  Also, whenever Spike feels like he wants to touch Masha and be “affectionate” toward her, he does so as he pleases no matter who is around.

I believe Spike is aware that he has more power in certain situations, but may not be aware of his white privilege specifically.  He is very pompous and ignorant and seemed as if he were in his own world.  Spike actually had a lot of power, whether he realized it or not.  He controlled a lot of Masha’s life because she was always trying to please him in order to feel better about herself.  Spike made her feel young, so she did whatever it took to keep him around (until the end).  Masha controlled the money, but Spike controlled Masha.  Therefore, Spike controlled the money – in some circumstances.  For example, Masha was going to sell her family’s home while she was with Spike.  Once she ended things with Spike, she decided to keep the house.

Does this level of “comfort” come from the privilege Spike has as a heterosexual, white male?  Or does claiming his privilege seem a little over the top?  What are your opinions on Spike’s role in this play from a feminist perspective?

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4 thoughts on “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

  1. If we’re going to bring race into the conversation, can we please acknowledge how incredibly racist a caricature the housekeeper character was? I mean damn!

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