By: Sandi Durell
Are we dog obsessed or what? Walk on any street, in any park, especially here in New York City, and you’ve got dogs a-plenty and their owners chatting away about Fido’s play-date, what he eats, his favorite toys, how many times a day he pees and poops. I love dogs but I am a cat owner.
Take Greg (Matthew Broderick), for instance, a guy who’s had it with his job, is in major crises, his kids now out of the house, and not sure how to relate to his wife Kate (Julie White) . . . he’s in turmoil. So much so that one day a sweet little fluffy gal named Sylvia (Annaleigh Ashord -she’s a dog who barks and it comes out “Hey, Hey, Hey”) nudges up to him in the park and he takes her home. Talk about opening a bag of Greenies… Kate just isn’t interested in dealing with a dog now that the kids are out of the house. She wants “freedom from dogs.”
But does Greg care? No! Even as Sylvia chews up Kate’s shoes and secretly lounges on the forbidden couch, Sylvia is more than just a dog nuzzling up to Greg for love and food. To him, she’s salvation, a real person and Sylvia is taking full advantage of it all with her endearing, charming sexy doggie persona. Of course, reality begins to set in when he meets another dog enthusiast in the park (Robert Sella who plays 3 roles) and cues him in on more than just dog behavior. Why that slut Sylvia. . . running off with Bowzer and doing what?
Meanwhile, Kate is telling all to her girlfriend Phyllis (Sella) who becomes the apple of Sylvia’s nose as she sniffs out some of Phyllis’ private parts to unending audience laughter. Time for a visit to a psychiatrist to figure out Greg’s odd behavior as we meet Leslie (Sella) a very transgender shrink who tells Kate to get a divorce and shoot the dog!
Ashford is the cutest, potty mouthed doggie you’ll ever want to meet with her long, unruly blonde hair and fury wrist and ankle bands, her instinctual speech patterns and quirky physicality done to perfection, as she assumes various doggie positions that are too adorable. She even does the “scoot!” Try and try as Greg might, he just can’t get Kate to accept his new girlfriend in the fantasy created by A.R. Gurney in this somewhat updated version that, of course, has everyone speaking with the F-word. My how contemporary! Really?
Broderick is . . . Broderick – no matter what the role. Straight-laced, straight as an arrow. It was his wife Sarah Jessica Parker who originated the role off-Broadway in 1995 while he sat watching her in rehearsals.
Julie White is funny and always flawless no matter what character she’s playing. But, Robert Sella is the comic scene-stealer in this one, especially as Phyllis and Leslie.
With Ann Roth’s fabulous costumes of doggie wear for Ashford, and David Rockwell’s easy sets that take us from park to apartment, you’ll be laughing your booties off under Daniel Sullivan’s intuitive direction.
Photos: Joan Marcus
Sylvia – Cort Theater, 138 West 48 St, NYC, www.sylviabroadway.com 2 hours, 5 minutes, thru January 24th