The revival of the A.R. Gurney Sylvia at Broadway’s Cort Theatre is a witty tribute to men and their dogs. Sylvia is the adorable and highly loveable Annaleigh Ashford. If you saw her in last season’s revival of You Can’t Take It With You, you will know just how inventive this comedic actress is. After all she won the Tony hands down. In Sylvia she plays a talking dog who lets us in on her inner thoughts. She unabashedly loves Greg (Matthew Broadrick) a nemish of a man going through a mid-life crisis. One fateful day the two connect in Central Park. From the very beginning Sylvia has wrapped Greg around her paw. When Greg (Matthew Broadrick) a nemish of a man going through a mid-life crisis. One fateful day the two connect in Central Park. From the very beginning Sylvia has wrapped Greg around her paw. When he hits her she states: “Even when you hit me, I love you. You are God. You are my God. My aim in life is to please.”
When Greg’s wife Kate (Julie White) gets home, she gets the surprise of life with Sylvia and wants her gone. She likes having the freedom of having her husband to herself now that the kids are gone. Greg is adamant and Sylvia stays. Greg spends more and more time with Sylvia and less time at his job. Already dissatisfied, Greg now has another reason to avoid work.
When Sylvia who has needs expresses them Greg has her spayed. Despite her pain and anger she still loves him.
Tension increases between Greg and Kate, who still does not like Sylvia. Eventually, Greg becomes completely obsessed with Sylvia, and Kate fears their marriage is falling apart. Kate and Sylvia are at odds with each other, each committed to seeing the other defeated.
Along the way Greg meets a man at the dog park, Kate’s friend becomes the object of an embarrassing sniff. Greg and Kate visit a therapist, Leslie, who is ambiguously male and female depending on her patients’ state of mind. Robert Sella plays all of these characters.
Greg knowing he has to get rid of Sylvia has a tender good-by until Kate has a change of heart.
Broderick is in his element playing the goofy sincere straight man. Julie White is the perfect frustrated wife who has quirks of her own. Robert Sella hams his roles to the hilt, but it is the wonderful Ashford who manages so many terrific dog like gestures that I am sure in a past life she was a canine. Her expressive face touches us and draws us in.
Daniel Sullivan’s direction is perfection.
Hey, hey, hey I am a devote cat lover but this is one addicting hysterical play, that has me cheering for the dog.
The Cort Theatre, 138 West 48th. St.