Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre’s final show of its 40th anniversary season, A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, is really for the dogs. And that’s a great thing, because a portion of all ticket sales for this show, which runs through October 30, will be donated to DAWG: an appropriate recipient considering the play is about a stray pup and the profound impact she has on the lives of the couple with whom she comes to live.
Sunday’s matinee opened to a set design suggestive of a home suffused with the sort of middle-aged, middle-functioning peace and pleasant coziness that Greg (Brian Harwell) and Kate (Susie Couch) have come to inhabit in their post-kids, post-pets, post-chaos life. Their Upper West Side apartment, with its fireplace, velvet chair, and white couch, is neat, orderly, and clean.
All’s blown to bits, however, with the galumphing entrance of Sylvia (Tiffany Story), an energetic, adoring,and wise-cracking Labradoodle that Greg picked up in the park and decides is just the thing he needs to fill the holes in his soul. A dog is a tough part to play, but Story’s flea scratching, poodle pirouetting, and general grip on canine tics made for as believable an anthropomorphized mutt as can be imagined. This thought-provoking, funny, and extremely true-to-life production will appeal to anyone who’s ever had a relationship, or a dog, or both. And it brings to light, with wit and warmth, the idea that a couple’s best friend may just be … a dog.