Carlsbad, CA— “Dogs Do Love Their Owners: ‘Love Hormone’ Makes Dogs Man’s Best Friend, Study Shows”. This appeared as a headline by Gillian Mohney via Good Morning America on March 18th 2015. In case you are interested, the hormone in question is oxytocin– or the ‘love hormone”- “the same hormone linked to pair-bonding in humans. That explains it all.
In A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia”, now in a more than entertaining production at New Village Arts Theatre through June 28th, Samantha Ginn takes on the role of Sylvia the stray dog, with as much panting and sniffing enthusiasm as any happy dog I know.
Aside from that, Ginn (yes the dog is a person and she talks) is absolutely just the right choice (Kristianne Kurner directs) to be Sylvia, and as much as I could go into detail about this quirky actor and her dog like antics, hers is a must see to believe role. (And no, I do not want you to lick my face for that!)
Who wouldn’t be happy to be adopted by Greg (Daren Scott)? He shows such unconditional love that to not give back would be the doggondist crime of the century. There’s only one caveat: Kate (Saverina Scopelleti) Gregs wife, DOES NOT WANT A DOG and especially the dog whose tag reads Sylvia.
Playwright A. R. Gurney’s 1995 Off- Broadway entry, “Sylvia” about the love triangle between a man, his wife and his dog might also be the only shaggy dog story he’s written. He’s delved into the Greeks with “Another Antigone”, “Love Letters”, “Snow Balls”, “Cocktail Hours” and “Dining Rooms” to name a few. But Sylvia, a dog story?
Greg is going through a mid life crisis. The kids are grown and out of the house. The family house has been sold and now he and his wife are in the city and having a dog isn’t the most practical thing to own. But Kate is going back to school, she’s busy in her own right and occupied with writing grants, etc. and Greg is fed up and burnt out at his job that now involves working in foreign currencies.
Owning a dog seemed just what the doctor ordered. It gives dog and owner great satisfaction plus it was love at first sight between Greg and Sylvia. “I want to be near you”. “Nearer my God to thee”. ”I felt an immediate connection. Didn’t you?” And so it goes with Sylvia’s admiration and devotion to Greg.
Kate, on the other hand, has had it with Sylvia’s sniffing, jumping on the furniture occupying Greg’s time; yes, diverting Greg’s attention from them. More than that though, Greg is in danger of losing his job because he spends more time in the park with Sylvia than in his office. He’s obsessed with Sylvia.
Kate and Greg are at opposite ends of their marriage at this time in their 22-year relationship. Kate has one of her friends, Phyllis (an hysterical Tony Houck) over to give her hints on how to handle the dog. Sylvia hates her and sniffs her incessantly. He also meets up with a macho friend (Houck) in the park. He recommends Sylvia be spayed. (That’s for another story).
Finally she and Greg go to a psychiatrist, Leslie (Tony Houck) who is a hoot as male/female who recommends that Kate shoot Sylvia. “I hope you get her right between the eyes.”
“Sylvia” premiered off-Broadway in 1995 starring Sarah Jessica Parker. In dog years though whose counting? It received Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Actress in a Play and Outstanding Costumes. Cathy Rigby starred in it at La Mirada Theatre in LA.
What a way to finish off a season. “Sylvia “ closes its 14th and New Village Arts has a hit on its hands as it ventures into its 15th.
It’s easy to get caught up in this ‘man loves dog/dog loves man’ shaggy dog story with a guy like Scott who has the longing and loving eyes of a kid every time he looks at Sylvia, a dog with the energy and zany-ness of Samantha Ginn, and the deliciousness of a Tony Houck who brings laughter in whatever crazy, cross dressing role he takes on. (credit Elisa Benzoni for the casual to doggie looks, Melanie Chin for the sound-do I hear a dog? Natalie Khuen sets and Chris Renda for the lighting.)
Robert Benchley said, “The ideal age for a boy to have a dog is between forty-five and fifty”.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through June 28th
Organization: New Village Arts Theatre
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 2787 Stare Street Carlsbad Village
Ticket Prices: Start at $24.00