Sylvia (play)

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Sylvia is a play about a dog, the couple who adopts her, and the drama that results. It was written by A. R. Gurney and first produced in 1995.

Directed by John Tillinger, it opened on May 2, 1995, at Stage I of the Manhattan Theatre Club, where it ran for 167 performances. The cast included Sarah Jessica Parker, Blythe Danner, and Charles Kimbrough. The production received Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Actress in a Play (Parker), and Outstanding Costume Design.

Plot summary[edit]

New York City. The '90s.

Middle-aged, upper-middle class Greg finds Sylvia, a dog played by a human, in the park and takes a liking to her. He brings her back to the empty nest he shares with Kate.

When Kate gets home, she reacts very negatively to Sylvia and wants her gone. They eventually decide that Sylvia will stay for a few days before they decide whether she can stay longer, but Greg and Sylvia have already bonded.

Over the next few days, Greg spends more and more time with Sylvia and less time at his job. Greg and Sylvia go on long walks. They discuss life and astronomy. Already dissatisfied with his job, he now has another reason to avoid work.

Tension increases between Greg and Kate, who still does not like Sylvia. Eventually, Greg becomes completely obsessed with Sylvia, and Kate fears their marriage is falling apart. Kate and Sylvia are at odds with each other, each committed to seeing the other defeated.

Greg meets a strange character at the dog run, who gives Greg tips on how to manage Sylvia and his predicament involving Kate.

Greg has Sylvia spayed. Sylvia is angry and in pain, but she still loves him completely.

Kate's friend pays a visit and is repulsed by Greg and Sylvia.

The three sing "Every Time We Say Goodbye". (Accompaniment and rights included.)

Greg and Kate visit a therapist, Leslie, who is ambiguously male and female depending on her patients' state of mind. After a session with Greg, Leslie tells Kate to get a gun and shoot Sylvia: "I hope you get her right between the eyes."

Kate is asked to teach abroad, in London, and tells Greg that the English have a six-month quarantine for any dogs coming into the country. Greg is unwilling, but eventually he succumbs and drops the news to Sylvia, that he must give her away, to a family who have a farm in Westchester County. Greg and Sylvia have a heated and tender moment.

Kate and Sylvia say goodbye; but, before Greg and Sylvia leave for Westchester, Sylvia returns the annotated and slightly chewed version of "Alls Well That Ends Well" that Kate has been looking for, and Kate has a change of heart.

The last scene is directed toward the audience. Sylvia has died, and Greg and Kate still hold her memory in all fondness.