Saturday, June 24, 2017 This Week's Paper

Arts & Entertainment: ‘Sylvia’ is a tasty treat for dog lovers

(This week, Tacoma Weekly’s intrepid theater reviewer Steve Dunkelberger was so taken by the new Tacoma Little Theatre production of “Sylvia” that he wrote a letter to his dog Sidda about it. Read on, and you’ll find out why…”)

Hey Sidda,

Sorry to wake you from your afternoon nap on the couch, but I wanted to let you know about this play I saw last weekend about the bond between a man and his dog. It really captured the bond we have as man and Canine American. Since you cannot read and it is hard for you to turn the pages of the newspaper since you do not have thumbs, I will read this to you later, but I might as well let others know about the play.

Tacoma Little Theatre is staging “Sylvia” by A. R. Gurney through Sept. 30. It is directed by Elliot Weiner, but you have never met him. It stars Michael O'Hara as Greg. You might remember him from the Blessing of the Animals ceremony for Saint Francis of Assisi day at Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church, when you were annoyed by all the other dogs getting attention and then the priest splashing water on your fur. Sorry about that, by the way. We humans can be silly sometimes.

Anyway, the play is a romantic comedy of sorts that centers on Greg when he finds a stray dog and immediately feels a bond take hold. Sort of like what we had the moment you jumped into my arms at the Humane Society of Tacoma/Pierce County and started to fall asleep on my shoulder those so many years ago.

And in this case, much like our own story, a woman does not understand the bond between Greg and his new dog, Sylvia, played by Angelica Duncan. Apparently a wife does not like the idea of a man spending time with another woman even if that woman is a Canine American. The role of the frustrated wife, Kate, is played by Dayna Childs. Comedy kicks into high gear when non-dog lovers get a glimpse of the sort of conversations we have about cats and walks in the park. Toss in the acting heavyweight talents of Blake York taking on three supporting roles and the play is a hoot.

You would love it if you could understand what those “upright” humans were talking about.

I was holding my “Sidda, Great Canine American” necklace pendant through much of the show. I just wanted to come home and give you a big hug and a long walk through the woods.

What makes this show work so well is that, while funny at times, it also has its tender moments in well as its warnings of projecting human traits onto four-footed friends. Apparently, some folks think that dogs are just dogs. Silly humans. They do not understand the ties that bind us together.

Will Kate come to see the error of her ways and accept Sylvia as an equal partner in this modern-day love triangle? You’ll have to see the play to find out.

“Sylvia” contains some coarse words and situations, but nothing a pre-teen like your “upright” sister or a 10-year-old German shepherd like you could not handle. Anyway, get back to your nap so you are well rested for our “Meerkat Manor” marathon this weekend.  



“Sylvia” plays at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays through Sept. 20 at Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N. "I" St. Tickets are $15 to $25. Visit for more information.