Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man's Best Friend: Wife or Dog?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man's Best Friend: Wife or Dog?

Article excerpt

Byline: Tamara McClaran

The affectionate bond that develops between people and animals is the heart of the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre's charming production of A.R. Gurney's romantic comedy Sylvia.

Sylvia is the story of a middle-aged couple, Greg and Kate, who live in New York City and are nearly torn apart by a poodle-mix stray, Sylvia, that tests their marriage. Now that their children are grown, Kate's career as a teacher is taking off. Greg, on the other hand, is struggling to find satisfaction with his career and life.

That's where Sylvia comes in. Greg finds the dog in Central Park and brings her home, much to Kate's dismay. She tells Greg, "The dog phase of my life is over."

Sylvia, however, is out to prove she is man's best friend. She worships Greg, jumping all over him and demanding his attention. Despite Kate's dislike for the animal that she calls Saliva, Greg becomes more focused on Sylvia and the lovable mutt begins to appear more like the other woman than a family pet. There are times in the show when you have to listen closely to figure out if Greg is talking about his wife or Sylvia.

This crowd-pleasing and funny show has an excellent cast. Cee Cee Hayes gives a powerful comedic performance as Sylvia, deftly capturing all the canine mannerisms. Whether it's leaping on the furniture or running circles around Greg when he's holding her leash, she moves like a dog and her reactions -- sniffing, panting and growling -- to other dogs, cats and people are just what you would expect from a pooch.

Rebecca Williams delivers a believable performance as the frustrated wife who sees Sylvia as a threat to her marriage. Director Greg Leute convincingly portrays the role of Greg, filling in just days before opening night for Andy Fitzpatrick, who is out of the show because of illness. Philip Walls plays a trio of engaging characters responsible for many of the show's laughs. …

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