(Above: Laurel Merz, left as the maid Cassandra, and Marc Siegel, right as Vanya, in Cottage Theatre’s production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; photo courtesy of Cottage Theatre)

By Randi Bjornstad

On June 7, Cottage Theatre opens a three-weekend run of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a lively comedy by playwright Christopher Durang which won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2013.

It’s a comedy with a story line — sibling rivalry —with which many people probably can identify without any difficulty.

In this case, the siblings are middle-aged, but as in real life, when it comes to friction among sibs, who’s counting? Brother and sister Vanya and Sonia have never left the family farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania, but their sister Masha grew up, left, and went on to a glamorous movie career.

When the women’s parents experience declining health, Vanya and Sonia have the responsibility to care for them, and they resent first Masha’s absence and then her cavalier appearance back home with Spike, best described as her “boy toy,” in tow.

Elizabeth Peterson, left,and Nikki Pagniano play Masha and Sonia in Cottage Theatre’s production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Two additional characters round out the cast: Cassandra, the longtime family maid who constantly makes unpleasant predictions about the family’s future, and a young attractive actress named Nina, who brings out all Masha’s age-related insecurities.

As one might expect in a stage comedy, chaos ensues.

In the Cottage Grove production, Vanya and Sonia are played by Marc Siegel and Nikki Pagniano. Elizabeth Peterson is Masha, with Laurel Merz as Cassandra, Alana Merz as Nina, and Joseph Harris as Spike.

Lance Troxel directs the Cottage Theatre production of Vanya, etc., with Olive Bennett as stage manager and costume design by Chris Carter.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

When: Evenings at 7:30 p.m. on June 7-8, 13-15, 20-22; Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. on June 9, 16, and 23

Where: Cottage Theatre, 700 Village Drive, Cottage Grove (east of the I-5 freeway from Exit 174)

Tickets: $29 for adults, $15 for youths; seating by reservaton, and advance purchase is recommended by telephone at 541-942-8001 or online at cottagetheatre.org