I just saw ""Vanya and Sonia..." today, and it was as I suspected a broad, vaudeville for educated theater lovers, who don't demand too much of a play and are content to be "in" on the jokes. So, with those expectations and a love of Durang, I had a pretty good time, but.....
OHMYGAWD! Billy Magnussen gave one of the shittiest, hammiest, broadest, lamest performances I've seen on a Broadway stage, and he was nominated for a Tony Award! I get it, Spike is DUMB, so of course Billy enters with the trademarked (since Mrs. Fiske's era) "I'm dumb!" look on his face, walking as if even his limbs are dumb. He plays Spike exactly how every other shitty actor plays a dumb character! His performance is so loud, boorish, unimaginative, and "on the nose", it would give "Saved By the Bell" a run for its money in the acting department. Also the young actress (from JUILLIARD!) playing Nina is chirpy, one-note, and awful too. I mean, has either one of them considered playing their characters like human beings? I haven't seen such hammy amateurish performances since my community theater production of The Music Man in 1980, which really wasn't half bad!
Julie White is fun, but miscast. She's not pretty enough to be believable in the role. And what's with the shepherd's crook with her Snow White costume? Nobody calls her on it? She says she was mistaken for Little Bo Peep, at the costume party I think, but nobody corrects Masha that Snow White was never a shepherd.
Vanya's rant is ok, but it comes out of nowhere. It seems completely out of character to boot. If it had all been done at half the ferocity and volume, it could have worked a lot better.
Durang's writing is so stylized yet the performances need to do very little of that work. It's already in the writing. This is not a very good play at all, but it's still fun when done well.
I just can't get over how lousy Billy Magnussen was. Just my opinion.