Barks accompany the opening announcement to “turn off your cell phones” as lights dim for the start of “Sylvia,” one of many details …
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Barks accompany the opening announcement to “turn off your cell
phones” as lights dim for the start of “Sylvia,” one of many
details throughout that reflect the experience and sense of humor
possessed by director Pamela Clifton at Town Hall Arts Center.
“Sylvia” is A. R. Gurney’s comedy about a middle-aged man, his
dog with an attitude, the adjustments he and his wife are making to
an empty nest, a move to a west-side Manhattan apartment and the
arrival of the feisty canine Sylvia in their lives. Gurney, known
for his commentaries on today’s polite society, has obviously known
and loved one or more dogs of his own to invent this wonderful
character, played with gusto by a live wire young actress, Hannah
Marie Hines. She has the moves— down to the quivering back leg when
the tummy is rubbed. “Hey! Hey! Hey!” translates to sharp barks and
nervous intensity informs her every muscle.
“What’s the story? Why in the city?” demands an exasperated Kate
(Margie Lamb) when she comes home to find her smiling husband Greg
(Robert Michael Sanders) and a bouncy, barking dog (part lab, part
poodle), which is newly arrived on the until-now peaceful,
organized scene. “I found her in the park… she’s a little
insecure…,” he responds to Kate, an English teacher given to
quoting Shakespeare. (We are reminded about Shakespeare’s “Who is
Three other very different characters are skillfully played by
veteran actor Tupper Cullem — in various attire: Tom, the proud
owner of a studly dog named Bowser, who interests Sylvia a lot;
Leslie, Kate’s college friend, who is horrified by Sylvia and
Phyllis, an androgynous marriage counselor.
Sound bites of familiar songs are interspersed by set/sound
designer John Sullivan, Town Hall’s technical director. Projections
allow for a smooth transition from apartment to park and back with
minimal furniture shifted on and off.
Sylvia does tend to questionable language at times, which fits
so smoothly that it’s hard to imagine that it could offend, but
Lassie, she’s not!
If you go:
“Sylvia” plays through Jan. 31 at Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W.
Main St., Downtown Littleton. Directed by Pam Clifton.
Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 27; 2 p.m. Sundays; 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24.
Tickets: $18 to $35. 303-794-2787 ext. 5; www.townhallartscenter.com.
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