Last Friday I went to see Sylvia, the new play about a man and his dog. I’d heard Annaleigh Ashford was killing it and I expected nothing more than a performance of a bored fish from Matthew Broderick, because let’s be honest: phoning it in is what he does best nowadays. Love him, but it might be time to retire now.
Ashford brilliant portrays a poodle found wandering around Central Park who is adopted by the meek and equally as lost Greg (Broderick). Greg’s wife Kate (the marvelous Julie White) is bordering on fuming when he brings Sylvia home. Greg is warned by a fellow dog owner (played by Robert Sella, who plays multiple roles throughout the night) to get ready for trouble with his wife because his wife doesn’t want a dog and because it has a human name (which has some kind of psychological effect on a person). The premonition comes true but don’t worry, there’s a happy ending
Robert Sella, killing it in front of my eyes since at least 2005, was perfect in his many roles that night. He’s a brilliant comedic actor. Julie White, another favorite of mine, although not at her funniest, got lots of laughs (not her fault, but not every script can be Little Dog Laughed-level of comedic brilliance).
I actually thought Broderick was kind of adorable. He still used that same, sort of annoying, whoa-is-me Charlie Brown voice, but it kind of worked.
The star of the night was, of course, Ashford. She saved the revival of Rent as Maureen and I don’t think she’ll ever disappoint. She is one of the great character actors of my generation. Her physicality as a dog was perfect. I really have nothing else to say expect: perfect. And: hilarious.
It dragged a bit and it could easily be shaved down to an hour and 45 minutes with no intermission, but nevertheless, if you have a free night, go laugh out loud at Ashford.