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Review on willcall.org
Sylvia By A.R. GurneyThe morning after I saw this play, I was walking through the parking lot of my favorite Starbucks (Topanga and Dumetz, Woodland Hills) anticipating my half-bold, half-decaffeinated, double-cupped coffee when from the backseat of a faded red Honda Civic, a dog spoke to me. He said, "Why the hell has my master left me here? Where did he go?" I didn't answer the dog, barely. I suspect I'll be hearing dogs speak for a few days more until the effect of 3Monkeys Theatre Company's hilarious production of A.R. Gurney's play Sylvia (first staged in 1995 starring Jessica Parker), wears off. The storyline is straightforward: Greg, superbly-played by Martin Thompson, is a middle-aged Manhattan executive who brings home a dog he found in Central Park. Not much unusual here, except that the dog--speaks. Sylvia is played by a human, Paula Schmitt, who brings an array of finely-honed acting and comedic skills to create this engaging canine (half-lab, half French poodle, no cups involved at all)). What does Sylvia say? Exactly what a dog would say if it could speak. Avowals of love for her God and master, hatred for that lowest of species, the cat, and bewilderment at the hostility of Greg's wife Kate--the antagonist in the piece whose self-control explodes hilariously--a terrific Shon Denise. Even before the first puddle behind the couch, Kate is unhappy with Sylvia, her name established by a tag on her collar. Kate, a dedicated teacher whose educational reforms are gaining national attention, is bewildered by Greg's fascination with Sylvia, who expresses her love for Greg both verbally and physically (imagine for a moment the compromising positions you'd find yourself in if your dog took on human form). Further troubling Kate are Greg's problems at his job, which he is growing to loath. Kate is well-aware that Greg is undergoing a mid-life crisis, but instead of his seeking his lost youth and libido in the arms of a younger woman, which Kate would abhor but at least understand, he seeks it in a dog. It is precisely that situation that makes this such a clever, insightful and funny play. Sylvia is a dog played by a human but also always threatening to become a human. The play is the classic triangle with restraints, and it makes for delicious comedy, and many wise and touching observations on man and dog, man and woman, and man and man. In one scene, Greg, haven taken Sylvia to a dog park, falls into a conversation with Tom (Eric Carl, brutally funny in multiple roles), whose dog Bowser is out cavorting with Sylvia. Tom is without illusions regarding dogs (naming a dog "Sylvia" is an anathema to him. Stick with Bowser, Fido and Spot), and his uproarious disclosures to Greg allow Martin some fine acting moments as Greg reaches enlightenment. But the heart of the play is Sylvia, and Schmitt, whether turning over on her back, paws in the air, to have her belly rubbed, balking at Greg's plea to do a trick for company or uttering her unvarnished doggy thoughts when she goes into heat, realizes the role completely. Directors Ira David Wood IV and Sara Wood have shaped a thoroughly enjoyable evening of theater. The Actors Space, the home of 3Monkeys, is a new theater (the paint has just dried), and a most welcome addition to the West Valley. The Actors Space, 22749 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. Friday and Saturday 8 pm, $15. Sunday 7 pm (818) 222-7484 or www.3monkeystheatre.com Through June 16PS: As I finished writing this on the Starbucks' patio, a woman's dog at a nearby table started barking fiercely at some passing dogs. After the dogs had left and things settled down, the woman said to her tablemate: "He wants to go play with them but he doesn't know how to express that."--Alex Austin
3Monkeys Theatre Co. 2010 Season
22743 Ventura Blvd.
Woodland HIlls, CA 91364
SARA WOOD - Artistic Director
is an award-winning actor and director with a 42 year history in theatre.
Favorite roles include Desdemona in Othello, Constanze in Amadeus, Anna in Burn
This, May in Fool For Love, Madame de
Tourvel in Les Liaisons Dangereuse, Rosiland in As You LIke It, Stella in
Streetcar Named Desire, Roxanne in Cyrano de Begerac, Olivia in Twelfth Night,
Tracy in The Philadelphia Story, Sabina in The Skin Of Our Teeth and Heidi
Holland in The Heidi Chronicles.
a Director, favorite projects include Last Summer At Bluefish Cove, Agnes Of God,
Prelude To A Kiss, The Women and Uncommon Women And Others. Sara is the
mother of four amazing kids, and would like to thank them all for their
patience and support over the years.
THANKS AND ETERNAL GRATITUDE TO THOSE
WHO HAVE INVESTED IN
THE 3MONKEYS THEATRE CO.
(DONATIONS OF 500.00 OR MORE)
LIZ BARRETT, SAM FULLER,
JOANNE FRUTH, EVAN
(DONATIONS OF 100.00 OR MORE)
PAT MOORE, GEORGE AND JULIE SCHAFFER,DAVID AND ELLEN BYERS, BRIAN CALVERT, ED
AND ANN ELINS, ROXANNE KIND, SUZANNE VENDENA, SOLON SCOTT, KERRY SMITH, BESS
WATSON, ELIZABETH WINSTEAD, RICK REVELL, CAROLE MARCOTTE, DAVID BURNETT, ARTHUR
AND ANDREA WALDSTEIN, FRANCIS RAINEAU, ELLEN HEIN,
RON AND JOYCE WILD
ELIZABETH COPELAND, SHAWN DAVIS AND PAIZHE
PRESSLEY, LYNN FRUTH, DANNY, DAVE AND VAL ROSSIGNOL,
KELBY PERREN, JOHN JACKMAN, BILL AND KIM
ESSLING, RHONDA RAULSTON, LISA CARL, CHAMBERS STEVENS, LIN HAMILTON, DEBBIE
ENTIN, SUSAN BLASINGAME, JULIE WESTFALL, HOWARD WEXLER, WILL STEWART, CHASE
ROSENBERG, KATHY NORRIS,
Theatre Co. was founded in 2010 by Valley West Actors Space owner Sara Wood and
instructor/actors Ashley Dulaney and Kyle Perren.
Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead was the
premiere production of our Theatre Company.
visit us online at www.valleyactors.com to learn more about
the classes, workshops, summer camps and other programs offered by Valley West
Actors Space. We greatly
appreciate your support!