If there were an eleventh commandment, it might read:  Thou shalt own a dog.  Where else might one find such devotion, fidelity, companionship, comfort and unconditional love wrapped up in one furry package with a tail, wet nose and optional fleas?

For middle-aged and mild mannered Greg, finding a part poodle, part lab in Central Park, with the dog tag Sylvia, coincides with a mental and emotional crisis he is facing.  No longer enamored with his job, in an empty nest marriage with the children grown and flying free and his wife enthusiastically starting a new career teaching Shakespeare to middle school students, Greg is ripe for a new direction in life.

Instead of buying a fire engine red convertible, taking up golf or karate, he seeks affection in an adorable four-footed ball of fluff.  Watch how delightfully A. R. Gurney propels humor and wit into the fray in “Sylvia” settling in at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre until Sunday, March 14.

While Erica Sullivan’s Sylvia makes herself very much at home on the white living room sofa, cuddling up to her new god in the person of John Procaccino’s Greg who rescued her, the odd person out, Greg’s wife Kate of twenty-two years, is less than thrilled with the new threesome.  It’s as if Greg invited a mistress into their home because Sullivan as the adorable Sylvia, referred to by Kate (Karen Ziemba) disdainfully as “Saliva,” provides Greg with oodles of drooling affection, wiggles and wags galore and charming conversation.

Completing the talented cast is a versatile Jacob Ming-Trent who provides a trio of great foils for the pooch to relate to, annoy and attack.  Eric Ting as director keeps the funny fur flying as Sylvia launches herself into the family fray with fervor, friendliness and an occasional foul f-letter word.

For tickets ($30-65), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

A special event, “Find-A-Friend For Life,” to benefit the Robin I. Kroogman New Haven Animal Shelter will take place Saturday, March 6 from 1-4 p.m.  Dogs of all sizes and breeds will be available to adopt.  Donations of dog food, dog treats, leashes and bleach are accepted in the theater lobby from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on performance nights.

Let Sylvia of the limpid eyes and frisky tail seduce you, just as she does Greg, putting him squarely in the doghouse with Kate firmly holding the leash.  It’s bow-wow wonderful!


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