THE Theatre Royal in Bath has kicked off its new summer season to a brilliant start with Christopher Durang’s irresistible madcap comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

Winner of a 2013 Tony Award for Best Play, the production is running in TRB’s Ustinov Studio until July 6 and is not to be missed.

Directed by Tony Award-winning Walter Bobbie, it stars three-time Olivier Award winner Janie Dee as Masha, Mark Hadfield as Vanya, Rebecca Lacey as Sonia, Lewis Reeves as Spike, Michelle Asante as Cassandra and Aysha Kala as Nina.

Set in Pennsylvania, Durang’s play is inspired by the listless life of the characters in Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.

The story revolves around the relationships of three middle-aged single siblings, two of whom live together, and takes place during a visit by the third, Masha, who supports them.

Masha, a film star whose acting career is on the wane, pays a return visit to the family home accompanied by her young lover, Spike.

The cast is a strong one and their comic timing is deft and spot on. Their strong performance lift a somewhat skimpy plot about a group of people who seem fated to fulfil the destinies of their fictional namesakes.

However, there are many delightfully funny comic moments and the play is unexpectedly brought to life by two long monologues.

Audiences will get the opportunity to see Uncle Vanya itself when Chekhov’s drama plays the Main House from July 18 to August 3.

The summer season continues with Blithe Spirit (to July 6), Vienna 1934-Munich 1938 (July 11-August 3), The Argument (August 7-24), The Life I Lead (August 27-31), Trying It On (September 3-7) and The Man in the White Suit (September 6-21). John Baker