Sylvia Review - It's a Dog's Life

In a sharp and creative play by author A. R. Gurney, director/actor Tanna Frederick has brought the inner thoughts of a dog to life with exuberance and keen insight. You see, Sylvia is a four-footed furry friend, a stray who hopes that she has found the home of her dreams with mild-mannered Greg (Stephen Howard) and his wife Kate (Beege Barkette).

Beege Barkette, Tanna Frederick, and Stephen Howard - Photo by Nancy Frederick

A riot from beginning to end, Sylvia (Tanna Frederick) does just what dogs do – but with panache marked with the occasional cynical gaffe. Happily, this is a talking dog who manages to twist Greg, yearning for someone to talk to and share feelings with, around her little paw. Greg and his wife Kate have grown apart, now that the kids are out of the home and the couple has moved into a luxurious designer apartment in the heart of New York City. But Sylvia – man’s best friend – arrives just in time to fill that void, at least for Greg. His wife isn’t so sure, especially after Sylvia has a little “accident” in the living room, insists on resting on the elegant sofa, and gradually consumes most of Greg’s waking hours.

Tanna Frederick and Stephen Howard - Photo by Lia Pearson Photography

Brilliantly portrayed by Ms. Frederick, Sylvia has a passionate love affair with a really macho canine as she adjusts to her comfy life style and frequent trips to the groomer. Her “dog’s life” grows more and more enchanting – even if she scares off visitor Phyllis with her interest in “crotch checking” and nibbles on Kate’s precious library. Everyone seems to love Sylvia – except, of course, for Kate. When the chance for an all-expense-paid six-month trip to England surfaces – coupled with the British requirement for a six-month quarantine for any pets – Greg is in a quandary. What about Sylvia?

This is a laugh-a-minute opus featuring four supremely talented actors at the top of their game. Tom (another dog fancier), Phyllis (that unfortunate visitor), and Leslie (the airy-fairy therapist) are all played by the fourth in the quartet, Matthew March. By the way, he makes a great 6’5” lady wearing, just to add some height, spike heels.  

Mark Kanieff’s set design creates the perfect “Architectural Digest” apartment. Derrick McDaniel’s lighting and Carlos Torres’ sound add to the ambience. And let’s not forget Anaid Gutierrez Cruz’s makeup and hair styling which allow Sylvia to emerge from a shaggy stray to a pampered pooch. By the way, Tanna Frederick gets to demonstrate her talented chops as a director in this re-boot of SYLVIA. This very funny comedy arrives just in time for the holidays and would make a great gift for the entire family.

Stephen Howard and Tanna Frederick - Photo by Nancy Frederick

A guest production of the Odyssey Theatre, SYLVIA runs through December18, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays to Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays (dark on 10/29/16 and 11/24-27/16). The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025.  Tickets are $30 ($20 for students and seniors). For information and reservations, call 800-838-3006 or go online

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