What's it about?
Sylvia is about a discontent middle aged man named Greg who encounters a dog while on a walk in the park. The name written on the dog's collar?
On a whim, Greg decides to bring Sylvia home, much to his wife's surprise and displeasure.
What did I experience?
I arrived at the Cort Theatre, pretty pumped to see Ferris Bueller (aka Matthew Broderick) in action. I knew nothing about the play other than the fact it featured him.
Matthew, in character as Greg, walked onto the stage and everybody freaked out: some people shrieking and even giving a standing ovation. This kinda bugged me. It's one thing to go out of your way to see a show that stars an actor you admire, he hadn't even done anything, he had simply showed up.
As Greg made his way around the park, I noticed a woman eagerly following him on her tiptoes. It took me no time at all to realize that she was playing a dog. I chuckled to myself as this truth fully sank in.
This "dog," named Sylvia, wore fuzzy-ish human clothes, stood on two legs, and even spoke and understood English. But Sylvia's humanity brought out her doggishness all the more. Whenever she'd get excited, angry, or scared, she'd start shouting "Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!" at the top of her lungs the same way a dog would bark in real life. When Greg hit her with rolled up newspaper for disobeying an order, after growling out an "Ow!" she said something along the lines of "I love you, even when you hit me," seeking affection and approval regardless of her treatment. And she frequently referred to Greg, her master, as God.
Now I'm all for animals, but I certainly would never bring one home (even one as spunky as Sylvia) without consulting my family members.
Greg did just that.
And when his wife, Kate, tried to use her veto power on the whole Sylvia situation, Greg wouldn't have it! I had to side with Kate. She and her husband had finally managed to get all their kids out of the house and off to college (Yay for parenting!), and had recently relocated to New York City from the suburbs (which is the ultimate upgrade). On top of that, Kate had just landed a high pressure job trying to teach Shakespeare to inner city middle schoolers. At this point in their lives, they deserved to be a little selfish and not to have to worry about a living animal. And Sylvia wasn't any animal. Sure, she was cute, with a rear-end that had people stopping her on the street to appreciate it up close, but she was also loud, messy, very into licking people's crotches, and prone to going to the bathroom wherever she pleased. Needless to say, Kate was not feeling it.
But Greg needed Sylvia; Her companionship was therapeutic for him, and frankly, to me it seemed borderline inappropriate. The fact that Greg would put a dog he barely knew ahead of decades of marriage was... problematic, to say the least. Kate began to grow jealous of Sylvia (Yes, jealous of a pet dog!). Her husband lavished attention on Sylvia that he hadn't shown Kate in a long while. Daily Central Park walks lasted hours at a time and Greg started leaving work early for no other reason than to spend time with Sylvia. It became clear that he didn't see Sylvia for what she was: a dog. He saw her on the same level as humans. Oh, and he would often mix up Sylvia and Kate's names!
At marriage counseling, which this couple was in desperate need of, Greg wouldn't shut up about Sylvia and it gave me the heebee-jeebees. Even the therapist encouraged Kate to divorce Greg and kill Sylvia! Okay, so the therapist was kidding (I hope), but the sentiment remained.
Finally Kate had to give Greg an ultimatum: it was either Sylvia or her.
*Cue dramatic music*
Sylvia demonstrated for me how easily a dog can become a member of the family. As someone who has never had any pets other than snails or silkworms, I never quite understood how people practically considered their pets to be their children, spoiling them and making sacrifices for their benefit. But animals, dogs especially, are capable of connecting with people in a special way - and if you've never had a dog, you won't understand it. I'm not quite there yet, but after being introduced to Sylvia I think I have more of an idea.