Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sylvia, Austin Playhouse, November 21 - December 28

On first impression, A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, now playing at the Austin Playhouse, comes across as brainless, harmless fun, mostly thanks to the gleeful, energetic actress Andrea Osborne, portraying Sylvia, the stray dog found in a New York City park.

Sylvia’s playful, adoring behavior completely captivates Greg (David Stahl), the middle-aged empty-nester who has relocated from the suburbs to the city, where he and his brainy wife Kate have found new jobs and a new life.

Greg takes the doggy home and obsesses over her, creating disorder and confusion in the couple’s new urban lifestyle. The piece becomes an extended farce over the unexpected ménage à trois. Greg cannot abandon either of the ladies – and in addition to being of different species, they appear to be creatures from different planets. Kate is a tidy, calm intellectual concentrating on the impossible challenge of teaching Shakespeare to urban middle schoolers; Sylvia is messy, sloppy, impetuous and fixated on Greg.

Add to that the fact that Sylvia talks.

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