Take a topnotch script, cast it with four splendid performers and you have the necessary ingredients for "Sylvia", the current show at Footlihts Repertory Company. Written by A.R. Gurney, the show is the male viewpoint of a man's midlife crisis. The female dog is a metaphor for the other woman in this man's life. The love and affection of Sylvia, help him escape the nagging of his jealous wife. This talking dog helps the man cope with his problems, eventually bringing the husband and wife together by the end of the show. Add another dog owner, a friend of the couple and a shrink to the mix and you have Mr. Gurney's take on how to solve marital problems. Director Sue Nedar combines the comic and dramatic elements together excellently, winning thunderous applause at the close of the show. There isn't a dry eye in the house at the dramatic impact of the final scene.
Sue blocks the show beautifully. She is aided in her task by hard working stage manager, Joel Ward. Leading the cast as Sylvia is Vanessa Medeiros, giving a tour-de-force performance. She is phenomenal in this role as she captures every nuance of humor that Gurney has written as if he wrote the show for her. The cat scene, being in heat and being spayed scenes are hilarious. Vanessa has a twinkle in her eyes as this michievious talking pooch. Sylvia's relationship with Greg is excellent and her antagonistic relationship with Kate is right on the money, too. Sylvia hides Kate's "All's Well That Ends Well" book, only returning it near the end of the show to offer Kate sound advice on how to repair her relationship with her husband. The last scene is a true tear jerking moment that is wonderful to behold. Brava on a job very well done.
Chris Mac plays the demanding role of Greg. His line delivery and strong performance, makes the relationship between man and his dog believable. Chris' warmth towards Sylvia and his relationship with his wife are very well done. He has the audience rooting for a happy ending for this couple. Pam Morgan is splendid as Kate. She refuses to accept her husband's relationship with Sylvia. Pam has many funny lines including calling the dog, Saliva and when she yells at the dog to stay off the sofa. Pam delivers a powerful scene at the end of Act 1 as she confronts Sylvia and reprimands her behavior. She plays Kate excellently. Pam is a terrific actress in every role I've seen her in and this role is one more feather in her cap.
Rounding out the cast is Jeff Belanger as the other dog owner, a female friend of the couple and finally their therapist. As Tom, the dog owner he tells Greg how wives and dogs behave. Jeff makes the transition to Phyllis, the rich,alchoholic. She is very comical as she explain's things to the other characters, and her reactions to Sylvia humping her groin area are hysterical. The androgynous therapist is a hoot as Jeff tells the husband and wife to view him how they want him to be and his chastisement of Greg's behavior towards Sylvia is splendid,too. So for a fun filled evening of a superb comedy, mixed with pathos, be sure to catch Sylvia before time runs out. Tell them Tony Sent you.