Sylvia, written by A. R. Gurney (whose other hits include Dining Room and Labor Day) was first performed off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club. After a couple of very successful months, it moved on Broadway to the John Houseman Theatre. Sara Jessica Parker originated the role of Sylvia.
Sylvia is a story of empty nesters. The children are in college, the suburban home has been sold and the couple has moved to New York City. Kate is the wife whose career as an inner-city English teacher is taking off; the long-married couple are touching base with old city friends and spending weekends visiting country friends. The only glitch is husband Greg's career. He's losing interest and losing his edge as a stockbroker. Disgruntled and restless, Greg is easy pickings.
Call it a mid-life crisis, call it the eternal triangle, but pretty soon Sylvia enters the picture and the zany action begins. However, in this play, instead of a young long-legged buxom blonde adventuress, this homewrecker has four legs,a tall, shaggy fur and big soulful brown eyes. A cross between a lab and a poodle, this "other woman" moves in and begins to move Kate out.
"Give a dog a woman's name and you'll begin to think of it as a woman," writes Gurney, and Greg does. Sylvia intrudes between husband and wife very effectively, sleeping in their bed, making weekend visits with them and helping to celebrate an anniversary. Greg even takes Sylvia out to lunch: he's found a restaurant to cater to her.
The idea of a dog becoming the third party in a marriage dispute provides the funniest moments in the play.
Sylvia dominates both script and Bowie Community Theatre's production as Karen Morgan plays the role with exuberance and sly maneuverings. First she seems human, then doggy, then human again, keeping the audience amused and off-balance.
The award-winning Bowie Community Theatre is to be commended for attempting a new addition to the area's repertoire of plays. Choices like this expose us to new works and new ideas and keep theatre fresh and challenging.
Directed by Estelle Gardiner. Cast also includes Greg (Todd Cunningham), Kate (Kathy Marshall), Tom/Phyllis/Leslie (Dan Kavanaugh).