BWW Review: SYLVIA at Ottawa Little Theatre

BWW Review: SYLVIA at Ottawa Little Theatre
Sylvia (Emily Walsh) and Greg (Paul Williamson) have
a clear case of puppy love. Photo: Maria Vartanova

A.R. Gurney's Sylvia is a story about one man's relationship with his dog. The opening scene unfolds with Greg (Paul Williamson) at home with the newly adopted Sylvia, an excitable, fluffy pooch played by Emily Walsh. Greg has brought Sylvia, an apparent stray, home from the park unbeknownst to his wife, Kate (Amanda Jonz). Sylvia is eternally grateful for having been rescued and she seems to be just what Greg needs to distract him from the fact that he hates his job and has a feeling of dissatisfaction with life in general. Kate is busy advancing her career and Greg finds an outlet for his melancholy with Sylvia. Greg and Sylvia go for long walks in the dog park and have philosophical discussions (Sylvia admits that some of this stuff is way over her head, but she loves Greg so much that she listens anyway). Sylvia rests her head on Greg's knee and looks up at him with unconditional love that is unrivalled, that is, if you don't count a little romp with Bowser that ends with Sylvia getting spayed. Kate, however, is not impressed, believing that Sylvia has replaced her in Greg's affections. Can Greg keep Sylvia and Kate happy or will one have to go? And which one will it be?

This is a fun comedy, made all the more so by Walsh's performance as Sylvia. It's a little hard at first to get over the fact that Sylvia is played by an actual human, but after the initial hump, it helps to see Kate's perspective as the latter becomes increasingly resentful and jealous.

Williamson and Jonz are both convincing in their roles. Greg and Kate's relationship becomes progressively strained and Kate's exasperation is palpable. Greg's ignorance of Kate's feelings as he lavishes more and more attention on Sylvia conveys the cluelessness often associated with men when it comes to understanding their wives' feelings.

Of course, Walsh steals the show in the title role. Her mannerisms are clearly studied from life, as evidenced in the play's liner notes. Sylvia's director, Chantale Plante, noted that pets were brought to rehearsals for inspiration.

Lawrence Evenchick plays three different characters and he performs each with gusto. Being able to switch roles with such ease demonstrates his versatility as an actor.

Billed as a romantic comedy, Sylvia makes for an enjoyable night for couples, friends or family. The cast gives a solid performance and there are some truly laugh out loud moments that I won't spoil here.

You can get more information and purchase tickets at

Sylvia runs until September 29, 2018 at the Ottawa Little Theatre.

Photo credit: Maria Vartanova

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