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LIFE SUCKS now playing at Cygnet Theatre through Feb 27th is a new take on a theatre classic; it’s Uncle Vanya with a modern comedic twist.

If you are familiar with UNCLE VANYA then LIFE SUCKS is a clever reinvention, and possibly an easier way to absorb the sometimes relentless emotional angst. If you are not familiar with the Chekov classic then no worries, this adaption more than shines on its own without any background information needed. It’s a family gathering where everyone is at home, most of them wanting what they can’t have, and celebrates the ridiculousness that is getting through life every day.

Photo Credit: The cast of LIFE SUCKS at Cygnet Theatre. Photo by Karli Cadel Photography
Photo Credit: The cast of LIFE SUCKS at Cygnet Theatre. Photo by Karli Cadel Photography

Sonya (Savanna Padilla) and her Uncle Vanya (MJ Sieber) live at a family home along with other family members Bab (Patty Gallagher), and Pickles (Beatrice Basso). Vanya’s best friend Dr. Astor (Jorge Rodriguez) is also a frequent visitor to the house and makes himself at home there.

When Sonya’s father The Professor (Frank Dipalermo) returns to the house with his beautiful and younger wife Ella (Emily Shackelford) everyone’s lives get thrown off balance.

The Professor is getting older and is longing for youth, health, and success as an academic. He has come home to sell the family home (which is not really his to sell) so he can have one last chance to make something happen. Sonya longs for Dr. Astor, Vanya and Astor both long for Ella, and Ella just wants most of them to leave her alone. There is a lot of angst, and moaning about life but very little action to make anything different happen.

The play starts off by speaking with the audience and keeps up a friendly and funny dialogue with the audience. Asking questions, and interacting as they get answers and every show is unique because of it. The show is clever, earnest, and revealing of some truth about the tragic comedy that is life.

The cast is excellent, switching from the scenes to improvised audience interactions and back again without a hitch. They are warm and feel real, and thanks to direction by Rob Lutfy never feel weighed down.

Scenic design by Yi-Chien Lee evokes a farmhouse feel with a patchwork canopy of fabrics, with wooden platforms and furniture. Scattered trees and leaves give the sense of the rural farm and everything is highlighted by Minjoo Kim’s lighting. Costumes by Shirley Pierson are all modern, but give a very clear sense of each character.

LIFE SUCKS is a comedy that looks at the life not taken and the futility of dreaming without any action. Even if your life sucks, it doesn’t have to, and you can even help make other people’s lives suck a little less as well.

How to get Tickets

LIFE SUCKS is playing at Cygnet Theatre through February 27th. For tickets and showtime information go to

COVID Protocol: Mandatory proof of full vaccination or proof of negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hrs. of showtime. Masks must be worn indoors at all times.

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