Theatre Mirror Reviews "Sylvia"


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

2nd Story Theatre's current downstage show is A. R. Gurney's "Sylvia". It is the male viewpoint of a man's midlife crisis. Gurney uses a female dog as the metaphor for the other woman in this man's life. The love and affection of this female dog help him to escape from a nagging, jealous wife. The talking dog helps the man cope with his problems and eventually brings the couple together by the end of the show. Add three other characters to the mix and you have the ingredients for Mr. Gurney's solution on marital problems. Pat Hegnauer directs the show with a deft hand, mixing the comedy and the pathos together to create a marvelous show to be enjoyed and savored.

Pat uses a New York City apartment set designed by Trevor Elliot. Most of the humor in the show comes from the relationship between Sylvia, the talking dog and her owner, Greg as well as his wife, Kate's disapproval of Sylvia, another dog owner, a female friend of the couple and their therapist. Kate becomes the supposed victim and since she is an English teacher at an inner city school, she spouts quotes from Shakespeare at the end of some of the scenes. One of Kate's books "All's Well that Ends Well" is stolen by Sylvia, only to be returned by the dog to show Kate how to fix her marriage. It lets the title of this book to come true for this show, too.

Lara Hakeem is phenomenal as this lovable talking dog, Sylvia. She delivers a tour-de-force performance, delivering her clever one liners perfectly. Lara moves around the stage like a real dog with her astounding reactions to other dogs, a cat and the other people she meets. She handles the dog in heat sequence with Bowser comically and the humping of Phyllis crotch with her head is hilarious, too. Brava! Ed Shea plays the demanding role of Greg. His superb line delivery makes the relationship between dog and master very believable. His nuanced performance helps the audience understand this different kind of storyline. Ed's warmth and genuineness as this kind and loving man comes through to the audience. It has them rooting for him to have a happy ending that he wants.

Sharon Carpentier is marvelous as the unaccepting, shrewish wife. She handles the comic moments splendidly especially when she yells at the dog to stay off the couch and calling her saliva. Sharon also delivers a powerful scene with Sylvia where she gets down on her haunches to glare at the dog at the end of Act1. Jim Sullivan rounds out the cast as three different yet hilarious characters that have to be seen to be believed. He first plays Tom, Bowser's owner, who tells Greg how wives and dogs behave, then plays Phyllis, Kate's old friend from Vassar who is a rich alcoholic snob who becomes terrified of Sylvia and finally the piece-de-resistance as Leslie, their therapist who is a man or a woman. The therapist lets the patients determine what they view them as and he chastises Greg's behavior towards Sylvia. Jim is hilarious in all three roles, displaying his versatility as an actor. So for a fun filled evening of superb entertainment, be sure to catch "Sylvia" at 2nd Story Theatre. It will make you laugh at all the right moments with astounding acting and direction which is sorely needed in this day and age.

"Sylvia" (24 April - l8 May)
@ 28 Market Street, WARREN RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide