Man’s Best Friend Takes on a Whole New Meaning at South Park Theatre’s latest production, ‘Sylvia’


New York City is all a buzz as our main character Greg finds a stray dog in Central Park. She is a street-smart Lab / Poodle mix, a Labradoodle, who Greg decides to keep and names Sylvia.

Through quirky moments showing the trials and tribulations of dog ownership, Greg and his wife Kate slowly find themselves and each other. 

Kate, played by Diana Ifft, is a successful High School English teacher, working to advance her career and create new forms of curriculum that will inspire her students to learn and connect with the works of Shakespeare, which explains the multitude of books lining the shelves of her and her husband’s apartment. She is a woman who likes order and craves knowledge, and is looking to focus on herself and only herself, which doesn’t make much room for her newfound slobbery roommate. 

However, Greg, played by Michael Shahen, is on an entirely different path in life, pursuing what he calls “Realness,” or connection in the world. Struggling with his career, he feels empty from the day-to-day routine of life, a symptom one of his friends at the dog park blames on a gene in our DNA that makes one yearn for nature. 

So rather than facing these problematic aspects of life, he escapes the world through attention to his newfound companion, Sylvia. Unfortunately, this escapism, partnered with his continual dismissal of his wife’s boundaries for Silvia, causes his marriage to spiral. 

Shahen and Ifft have a good rhythm and play the emotional depths of their characters vibrantly. 

Sylvia, depicted by Rebekah Hukill, is a true puppy ball of energy. For the avid theatergoer, one may recognize Rebekah from her recent run inside Painting Lessons at the New Hazlett. Her mannerisms and comedic timing pair well with the more intense scenes that often surround her portrayal of Silvia, giving the audience a glimpse into the possible mind of our furry friends while also making us laugh with her one-line asides to the audience. From tirades about her longing to bring justice to the world via the inhalation of cats to her views on how demeaning it is to roll over, this character will surely bring a smile to your face. 

Overall this performance was unique and different from what I was anticipating. The script left me wishing for a bit more, as the show’s message is clear from the jump, and the actual character development throughout the show runs flat, though all in all, the actors played it well, and the show moved along. 

Perhaps we can all learn something about breaking away from our day-to-day routines and seeing the world through the lens of dogs. Although, maybe not quite to the extent that Greg does. 


erfdormances run now through June 17th, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm at the South Park Theatre. Tickets at: https://sites.google.com/a/southparktheatre.com/south-park-theatre/

Categories: Reviews

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