Dogs do think. And love. And have feelings. They can be independent. And playful. Sniffing and running and thumping and at certain times hot for other dogs.
In A. R. Gurney’s delightful revival of SYLVIA starring the amazing Annaleigh Ashford this frisky part mutt – part poodle mix not only does all of the above but she speaks, picked up in Central Park by Greg (Matthew Broderick) – a guy in full blown mid-life crisis mode. Or maybe she did the picking up.
In any event they seem to be made for each other. He is her God! He needs something more in his unfulfilled life now that his children are out of the nest and he and his Shakespearean scholarly wife Kate (Julie White) have moved in from the suburbs to Manhattan.
Only problem is that Kate does not want a dog. Especially this one. One who tries to ingratiate herself, insists on sitting on the sofa and one who leaves a small puddle for Kate to step in.
How can anyone not fall in love with Sylvia? Especially as portrayed by Annaleigh Ashford who is well on her way to fetching another Tony for her full immersion in doggy behavior and brilliant comedic timing.
Matthew Broderick has managed to land a part that suits him well. Even with his lame delivery and listless persona. It works to his advantage here.
Julie White as his scorned wife is perfect. At first wary she’s willing to let Sylvia stay – for a while – but then declares war when things get entirely out of hand.
Robert Sella – playing a trio of roles is terrific. Never missing a single laugh.
He is Tom – a fellow dog lover who Greg meets in the Park who offers some worldly dog/wife advice. Sylvia has a fling with Bowser, Tom’s canine. Phyllis – an Upper East Side socialite with a sweeping hairdo that nearly steals the show and is the recipient of some hysterical sniffing from Sylvia. And Leslie a complicated and confused counselor/shrink who is as just as confused as to his/her gender.
SYLVIA is extremely funny. There is a moment when all three – husband, wife and Sylvia are about to part and sing Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” that is quite touching.
Daniel Sullivan has directed with a steady leash. The set by David Rockwell is a beautiful depiction of Central Park that allows set pieces to flow in and out for the various locales. Costumes by Anne Roth are vintage 1995 and her outfits for Sylvia (knee pads included) are appropriate for a dog with such a high opinion of herself.
As they say “Every dog has its day” and Sylvia is the mutt of the moment. Highly recommended. At the CORT THEATRE.
Photos: Joan Marcus
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