Theatre’s Best Friend

Review of Sylvia @ Seattle Repertory Theatre by Olivia M.

I’ve always kind of wanted a dog, a best friend to play Frisbee and snuggle with, but after seeing Sylvia, I know what I really want: an adult human woman pretending to be a dog who can speak English while maintaining the mannerisms of a dog, and who frequently swears quite vulgarly at cats. And I know I want this from spending an evening watching Sylvia at the Seattle Rep.

In this gratifying play that is now being revisited after 15 years, we are let into the lives of empty nesters Greg and Kate (Alban Dennis and Mari Nelson), who have moved back to New York City and are both focusing on their careers, when Greg brings home a dog named Sylvia (hilariously portrayed by Linda K. Morris), who was mysteriously found in a park. I was a little confused by the nonchalance of this stray dog acceptance, but who am I to argue with a dog lover’s logic when I have never been graced with a dog in my home. Kate fights back against Greg bringing Sylvia into their apartment, as she wishes to maintain her clean, fun life, sans small life forms who depend on her, namely children or animals.

Linda K. Morris, Alban Dennis, and Mari Nelson in Sylvia. Photo courtesy of Seattle Rep.

Those three central actors are accompanied by a fourth, Darragh Kennan, who surprised me by portraying three roles. Kennan was my favorite part of the show, consistently making me laugh as Tom, Greg’s dog park buddy, Phyllis, a suspiciously high voiced lady socialite friend of Kate, and finally the super odd, new age marriage therapist Leslie, that Greg and Kate end up going to because Greg’s blossoming affection for the dog makes him refuse to give her up.

The bottom line of this show is that I went into it fairly stressed about all the homework I still had to do on that Wednesday evening, and was instantly pulled laughing into the storyline. This is not to say that I didn’t feel my fair share of heartache from the story progression, but without spoiling anything, I will admit that I did walk away satisfied, with both a mended and warmed heart. The set is really fantastic, with the different scenes shifting and the furniture mysteriously pulled on and off screen by what I can only deduce is magic, or possibly invisible string? The puzzle remains.

For a few hours of escaping the drudgery that is daily life in Seattle’s winter, I would very much recommend Sylvia to both dog lovers and those lacking furry friends.

Through December 11
Seattle Rep

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