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March 27, 2012 > Theatre Review: Sylvia a doggone good comedy

Theatre Review: Sylvia a doggone good comedy

By Janet Grant

All the kid's have left home and Greg a middle-aged businessman finds himself deeply adrift in a mid-life crisis while Kate, his wife of 22-years is finding challenge and recognition in her new teaching job. Enter Sylvia, a cute, young blonde that Greg finds at the park. They fall head over heals in love and he brings her home... to meet the wife. Well they do need her approval after all. Sylvia is a dog and she needs a place to stay!

"Sylvia" is a deliciously witty and uproarious comedy by A.R. Gurney, which opened Friday night at Fremont's intimate Broadway West Theatre Company. Under the wonderful direction of Mary Galde, a fine ensemble cast performed an engagingly charming night of entertainment.

At the heart of this unconventional romantic triangle is Sylvia, a part lab, part poodle mix so aptly depicted by Morgan Voellger. Her portrayal of this lovable but vexing mutt was brilliant. Anyone who's ever spent time with a dog would recognize the doggie mannerisms from happy wiggle to flea infestation. And as we watch, we do not have to imagine what this dog is feeling, we hear it first hand. And it is funny!

In contrast to the bouncy Ms. Voellger, the equally brilliant Kyle Smith and Paula Chenoweth played their roles as Greg and Kate seriously and straight. But sometimes serious can elicit some truly comedic scenes. Especially when Kate fights for the love of her man... face to face, and all fours!

There are three other actors that round out the play and they are all enthusiastically and outrageously played by Craig Cutting. There's Tom; a dog owner from the park who waxes philosophical on the ways of canine/nature interconnectedness, Phyllis; Kate's socialite friend from Vassar with an unconventional marriage of her own, and Leslie; an androgynous new age marriage counselor.

Though an exceptional comedy, "Sylvia" does have a more serious layer to it. After all it is at its core, a story about a man trying to find the relevance in his life, a woman trying to keep her marriage together while enjoying her freedom - serious stuff like love, abandonment, and rejection. And all these issues are imposed on Sylvia through the thoughts of Greg and Kate, allowing her to talk and interact on a more human level with them.

"Sylvia" also concentrates as much on what our actions and feelings as humans mean to dogs as they do to us. Sometimes, the revelations can be rather interesting.

Broadway West's "Sylvia" is a wonderful and engaging comedy treat for anyone who has over owned a dog, loved a dog, or wanted to throttle a dog. And that's the straight poop.

Good play Sylvia, good play!

"Sylvia"
Performances run through April 21
Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 8 p.m.
Sunday matinee: 1 p.m.
Sunday, Apr 1 and Apr 8: Continental Brunch at 12:15
Sunday, April 15: refreshments at intermission
Broadway West Theatre Company
4000-B Bay Street, Fremont
(510) 683-9218
www.broadwaywest.org.

Ticket Prices:
Adults: $23
Seniors/students/TBA members: $18
All Sunday performances: $22
Thursdays: $15 (all seats)
Thursday, Apr 10: $10 (all seats)

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