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DAN'S PAPERS, August 27, 2010 Page 107 www.danshamptons.com

Art Auction

Review: Sylvia

By Judy S. Klinghoffer From the moment Sylvia, a Labradoodle played by a human in A.R. Gurney’s two-act comedy, bounds on stage, be prepared to lose your heart. Sylvia, currently on the boards at the Mulford Barn Repertory Theater, is a delight from start to finish. Gurney, a master of middle-aged, upper middle class, WASP angst, ventured into lighter territory with Sylvia, a play about middle-everything Greg, who finds a dog abandoned in Central Park, and brings her home to the apartment he shares with his wife, Kate. Greg and Kate are empty-nesters, and Kate, finally free to follow her bliss, is less than thrilled to have Sylvia, fleas and all, joining the family. “There is no need,” she tells Greg as he enthusiastically introduces Kate to a hyper Sylvia. “I have a need,” Greg replies. Greg’s yearning for something “real,” for a sense of connection, finds an outlet in his relationship with Sylvia. “I love you!” Sylvia declares, throwing herself into Greg’s life with abandon. “I think you’re God,” she sighs happily, staring at him with adoring eyes. Is there a wife anywhere that can compete with that? Before long, tightly wound Kate is squaring off with Sylvia, both of them snarling and snapping as they fight to be the one woman in Greg’s life. Tina Jones’ Sylvia captures the very nature of dog behavior. With fluffy blonde pigtails waving like a retriever’s feathery ears, she bounds onto the furniture, romps around the apartment, and very memorably, gets romantic with a houseguest’s leg. Jones never lets her considerable charm become cloying. In one hysterical scene, Sylvia roundly curses out a stray cat with an impressive list of four-letter words, straining at the leash in a display of canine fury. This only endears her further to the smitten Greg, who admires Sylvia all the more for her connection to raw animal instinct. As hapless, disillusioned Greg, Joseph DeSane is extremely likeable as he goes from dog lover to Crazy Dog Person (CDP). Holding his own on the stage with Jones, DeSane makes us care deeply about Greg and his loss of appetite for a job that holds no meaning other than a paycheck. Like a curious lover, Greg quizzes Sylvia about her previous owner, looking crestfallen at her coy refusal to dish the kibble about her past. His Greg as a Waspinflected Everyman who finds joy through a relationship with a creature who offers sublime unconditional love along with less exalted qualities, like drinking out of the toilet speaks to all of us CDPs. In case you were unaware, Sag Harbor is the unofficial capital of the Crazy Dog People of America, and I am their president, so I know all about such things. Playing the dog-hating wife, Kate, a constricted English teacher who spouts Shakespeare at every turn, Lydia Franco Hodges hits her stride when Kate becomes unhinged as Sylvia seems to be gaining ground in the battle for Greg’s affection and attention. Her Scotch-addled rant to her friend on her husband’s obsession with “Saliva” as

Have a Heart Community Trust, Inc. (HAH) will hold its 1st Annual Art Auction, “Art from the Heart” tomorrow, Saturday, August 28th from 3 to 7 p.m. at the waterfront home of Victor Ozeri in Aquebogue on the North Fork. There will be ample parking and a limited number of boat slips available by prior reservation. This colorful event will be held rain or shine. Curated by Hector deCordova, artist and owner of deCordova Gallery of Greenport, this live and silent art auction will feature original works by more than 40 local and international artists. Featured works include oils, acrylics, watercolors, prints, photographs and sculpture. Radio host Bonnie Grice of 88.3 FM will serve as auctioneer. Since 1991, Have a Heart Community Trust has helped to meet the emergency needs of people and organizations here on the East End. Through its HelpLine Program, HAH has assisted families and individuals in need of affordable housing, food, jobs, addiction treatment, family crisis intervention and much more. The Program is equipped with a caring caseworker and volunteers who assist clients in obtaining the services needed to restore them to a functional life. Without this support, many of those who are homeless, near homeless, or in crisis would fall through the cracks. Have A Heart’s Achievement Program provides one-on-one tutoring in High School Equivalency sessions throughout the East End helping those who are ready to expand their potential through education. Have A Heart networks and coordinates with other social service agencies to expand the support system for those in need without duplicating services. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to haveaheartcommunitytrust.org.

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The zany cast of characters.

she has dubbed Sylvia, is hilarious. Of course, we want to hate Kate. She’s anti-dog! Hodges makes her relatable and sympathetic. Chuck Novatka plays a trio of characters of both genders. His Tom is a fellow dog-owner, squarely in the CDP camp, with philosophical insights into dog ownership and, marital pitfalls. Novatka next appears with a torpedo bra, a ridiculous blonde wig, and a tight-jawed Wasp delivery as Kate’s friend and confidant, Phyllis, but Novatka’s last turn, as the pant-suited sexually-ambiguous therapist Leslie, is the capper, illiciting howls of laughter from an appreciative audience. Director Kate Mueth keeps the tempo motoring along beautifully. Her sense of pacing is just right for this whimsical soap bubble of a play. When deeper themes do rear their heads, Mueth has done a lovely job of guiding her cast. She makes imaginative use of the space, playing scenes in the aisles effectively, staging exits and entrances from the front and back of the house. An appreciative nod must go to costume designer Kerry Strauss for Sylvia’s many marvelous outfits, with a shout-out for those dog-themed pajamas. Sylvia will alternate with David Ives’ All in the Timing, six wildly different one-act plays involving monkeys, black holes, and Trotsky’s floozy of a wife. I can’t wait to see how Mueth will orchestrate such a menagerie. My only issue with Mulford Rep is the same with all open air venues – the bugs! But damn the mosquitos, and full speed ahead to the Mulford Barn Repertory Theatre to enjoy this excellent production of Sylvia. All in the Timing through September 1. Seating is limited and advance reservations are strongly recommended. Tickets are $20, $15 for seniors and students, 324-6850.

Please have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend 1266850

Dan's Papers Aug. 27, 2010  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

Dan's Papers Aug. 27, 2010  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

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