Ever been in love yet still had to compete for the affection of your significant other? Your love is endless, undeniable, but their loving eyes just can’t get past the new tenant, a dog that speaks to you in English and fills the couch with fur.
In “Sylvia,” a play written by A.R. Gurney that ran in the Black Box Theater from Oct. 18 until Oct. 21, that’s the gist. And it was absolutely hilarious.
Greg, an unsatisfied stockbroker, played by Junior Benjamin Villa, continually ignores his career responsibilities and one day leaves work early only to bring home an Irish setter named Sylvia that he’d found in the park.
Unfortunately for Greg, he did not consult his wife, Kate, played by senior Kelly Sue Allen .
Sylvia, played by sophomore Haley Ryan, is the emotional core of the production. She is a capricious, vibrant and frisky canine prone to moments of intense cursing directed toward other dogs and cats off set.
Ryan plays less a human and more of a dog than expected. She flounders on the floor and leaps on characters demanding attention substituting barks for, “Hey! Hey! Hey!”
In one scene, Greg pulls a red ball from his shirt pocket.
“Speak, Sylvia,” Greg says.
“What do you want me to say?” Sylvia responds, completely absorbed with the red ball.
“Sylvia, no. Speak,” Greg repeats.
Sylvia’s presence not only ruins Kate’s sense of order and cool temperament, but it furthers her sense of neglect. Sylvia is the roadblock to Kate’s ability to logically influence her husband’s irrational desires.
On the other hand, Sylvia is the roller coaster of fun Greg has been yearning for. Though Sylvia pleases Greg, she drives an insurmountable rift into Greg and Kate’s relationship.
The result was a production that spoke of partnership, love, and acceptance of those closest to you.
“Sylvia’s” supporting characters intensify the drama and comedy. Kate’s confidant Phyllis, junior Erika Bojarczuk,becomes so disgusted with Sylvia that she renounces sobriety.
Sylvia has the same effect on Leslie, Greg and Kate’s ambiguously-gendered therapist, played by English Professor Flo Keyes. She demands that Kate shoot the dog: “I hope you get her right between the eyes.”
Greg is not without support, however. When Greg brings Sylvia to the park, he repeatedly meets Tom, played by sophomore in technical theater Chris Belanger, a man with unexpected observations about love and affection between canines and their masters. Tom also tries to help Greg with his predicament between wife and dog.
What made “Sylvia” so enjoyable to watch was its nuance, not its pronunciation of man-brings-talking-dog-home storyline. There was genuine feeling and life between the characters, especially heart-wrenching moments between Villa and Ryan as they stared into each others eyes not knowing what the future held for them.
“Sylvia” was an outstanding and long-awaited return to the Black Box theater.