Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies
"'Sylvia,' despite being one of Mr. Gurney’s more popular plays — the woman-plays-dog conceit probably helps — feels tediously overextended and repetitive at two hours and two acts. Although it has a certain silly charm, a sweet message about making connections both human and non- and some nicely turned jokes, ultimately the play has all the heft of a teacup poodle." Full Review
"You’ve got to hand it to Matthew Broderick: He’s a reliable actor. You can always count on him being either wooden or downright lifeless. When his performance is merely serviceable — as it is in the new Broadway revival of 'Sylvia' — it counts as a triumph. Of course it helps that the show pairs him with the inimitable Annaleigh Ashford, who gives a wonderfully zany performance as the titular dog." Full Review
"While the play is a breezy, hip and sentimental comedy, there's always the visual subtext of a young woman happily and unconditionally fawning over the older man who keeps her at the end of a leash...Director Daniel Sullivan's whimsical production features a colorfully romantic view of Central Park and jazzy scoring, giving the evening an infectiously charming New York feel. Be sure to stick around after the curtain call for an extra dose of puppy love." Full Review
"The shrewdest thing about this Broadway revival of 'Sylvia' was the decision not to update the comedy to the present day, when it would probably be stoned to death by feminists. Not because the title character, a dog, is played by a woman, but because the villain of the piece is the wife of the dog’s besotted owner. If you can put such thoughts out of your head, it’s a perfectly charming show." Full Review
"'Sylvia' is a drop-dead-funny play, but like all of Gurney's work, it also possesses an undercurrent of churning melancholy... Ashford and Broderick make such an endearing pair that they manage to rip our hearts out even as we laugh our heads off. If their close onstage relationship (and our reaction to it) proves one thing, it's that the bond between humans and their pets cannot be broken." Full Review
"Broderick, perkier than he’s been lately, gets crucial voltage from Ashford and White, both endlessly inventive comedians. Ashford has the showier role, dashing about in fanciful doggy couture and keeping up a sassy stream-of-consciousness. She sniffs strangers’ crotches with impunity; she butt-scoots on the carpet; she swears viciously at cats. What a joy to see Ashford unleashed." Full Review
"Ashford plays the title character in 'Sylvia,' a comedy as predictable as it is indestructible... Shouldn’t we be done with plays like 'Sylvia?' It is antiquated, it is self-congratulatory, it is conservative in both form and content with its focus on the non-problems of upper-middle-class white New Yorkers...Director Daniel Sullivan can’t teach it many new tricks, but he can give it a typically adroit and able production." Full Review
Unfortunately, this fantastic comic challenge is a dramaturgical disaster... A play that already seemed 20 years behind the times in 1995 now seems not just tired but icky... I left the theater — after the sappy post-curtain slide show — feeling pretty much like Kate, peeved and disapproving but unable to suppress a smile over the adorable doggy proceedings." Full Review
"A measure of how terrific 'Sylvia' is at its best in the scene where Kate, jealous over Greg’s obsession with his pet, can’t help sharing her frustrations with a friend... What’s remarkable is how clear and rigorous the distinction between Julie White’s imitation of Sylvia and Annaleigh Ashford’s impersonation of Sylvia – a testament to the artistry of the director and to these great actresses." Full Review
"For all its calculated silliness, 'Sylvia' is, one suspects, as much a personal work as any other Gurney play. This becomes clear in the finale, which offers a fast forward to reveal 'Sylvia's' ultimate fate; it's a touching realization of the melancholy fact that the animals we love are almost certain not to outlast us...Anyone looking for a solid example of that most endangered of species, the smart boulevard comedy, should consider adopting 'Sylvia' for an evening's entertainment." Full Review
"Amiable as much of 'Sylvia' is, it never goes much beyond its one-joke conceit...Ashford’s lovable, mischievous bitch (in both senses of the word) is the chief reason to see 'Sylvia,' although White is wonderfully honest and comic. Broderick, however, floats along on a single, rather monotonous note of colorless abstraction." Full Review
"'Sylvia' is one of the very best small-cast comedies of the past quarter-century, and this revival, directed by Daniel Sullivan, is so funny that I can’t see how it could fail to ring the box-office gong... Mr. Sullivan’s production may not get everything there is to be gotten out of 'Sylvia,' but it’s totally successful on its own broad-brush terms. It’s been a long time since I heard a matinee audience laugh as hard. I laughed, too—and so will you." Full Review
"What makes the one-dimensional play even more annoying, however, is its questionable sexual politics... The natural conclusion is followed by an unnecessary coda that goes on to spell out the obvious, turning it into pure schmaltz. No one would blame even the most nonmilitant feminist from snarling both at self-absorbed Greg and his manipulative bitch." Full Review
"This truly is one of those must-see performances that will stick with you for some time. Broderick gives the sort of cartoonish, oddball performance that it works unusually well here, and he has terrific chemistry with Ashford. In their hands, 'Sylvia' is a most unusual, quite touching love story." Full Review
"It's a play that needs only straightforward sets, an open heart, and four actors who are capable of rendering the central love triangle with the unsullied innocence and raw emotion the work requires. Such qualities are largely absent from the new revival of the play that just opened at the Cort... What you get instead are three acclaimed stars struggling visibly hard to come out on top of it, but not ultimately succeeding." Full Review
"AnnaLeigh Ashford’s Sylvia is a scampering, simpering dervish of a dog. If you have ever lived with a dog, played with a dog, even walked a dog you see Ashford’s got every note right…There are rafts of wonderful moments in her performance as she trades back and forth across the species divide…Much of the play is fun but the march to the end falls rather flat." Full Review
"When you have a dog played by a woman and rendered in human terms, this still is an awkward moment. You've got a woman in some pain obliged to be nice to a guy who, on some level, just caused it. You can make the metaphoric leap, kinda. But the moment is still emblematic of some of the tricky aspects of a comedy that now feels, well, problematic — not in an inter-species way but in matters of gender." Full Review
"Think too hard and the whole thing falls apart, or into a kind creepiness as Greg’s affections turn obsessive and just this side of sexual (I hope)... Robert Sella plays three increasingly annoying characters whose comic relief is vulgar, unnecessary and overdrawn. So leave the deep-thinking cap at home, and settle in for some pleasurable laughs. A lot of them." Full Review
"The fragile, two-act darling would have more impact at a lean 90 minutes, but not if we have to miss a bit of wisdom or knowing manipulation from this 'Sylvia'... If only Daniel Sullivan, best known for staging sensitive and serious dramas, did not crush the charm by having Robert Sella overplay the supposed hilarity of four increasingly obnoxious minor characters." Full Review
"All of this gimmickry — some of it written into the play, some of it resulting from Sullivan’s direction — wouldn’t matter if the characters, the dog included, weren’t so dull... The wimpy Broderick and the dynamic White don’t belong on the same stage, much less in the same marriage. Her bundle of neuroses, fun to watch in other shows, doesn’t fit this level-headed character." Full Review
"The plot of A. R. Gurney's reed-thin play goes into repeat mode after a half-hour, but Ashford, with the inventive help of director Daniel Sullivan, provides major laughs for the evening's entire two hours." Full Review
"Is there any comic performer on Broadway as gifted as Ashford? As she has proven time and again, she possesses rare gifts, all of which helps Daniel Sullivan’s revival rise to heights of true pleasure...Despite the play’s serious undertone, which is undercut by Broderick’s appealing if superficial performance, 'Sylvia' is a comedy, one with a great deal of laughs thanks to Gurney’s sharp dialogue, smart characterization, and the antics of the priceless Ashford as the sassy Sylvia." Full Review
See it if you love dogs. Without a devotion to furry friends, Sylvia's charms are elusive. Broderick was bland; Ashford too spicy. I didn't laugh once
Don't see it if you want an intelligent, insightful evening of theater. Sylvia is entertaining drivel. Closing doggie pix was a cheap bid for approval.
See it if you have an imagination & can handle the fantastical talking-dog premise. A Ashford's brilliantly funny. M Broderick's completely miscast.
Don't see it if a little raunch upsets you. Very warm & touching script. A Ashford is totally worth the price of admission. Wish it had run a little longer.
See it if You want a perfectly harmless commercial comedy. This ain't a magnum opus, but it goes great with a nice brunch.
Don't see it if You prefer serious character depth and strong dramatic tension.
See it if Annaleigh Ashford. Robert Sella. You can let the jokes that land carry you through all the ones that don't.
Don't see it if This play really didn't deserve a revival. The material is dated and even the "timeless" humor feels uninspired and saved by the actors.
See it if you want to see an actress play the part of a sexy dog. Matthew Broderick was so weird in the show that nothing could save it for me.
Don't see it if you are not a "dog" person or like intelligent theater.
See it if You are obsessed with your dog or know people who are-- the dog character is EVERYTHING
Don't see it if I don't really see what the draw would be if you can't relate to the situation the dog creates within her human family..
See it if You enjoy a light story. The actress that played Sylvia was so convincing that at times you'd think she's really a dog.
Don't see it if You expect a traditional .comedy. If you do not care much about dogs, you probably would not appreciate this production.
See it if I thought the story was weak and embarrassingly silly. Matthew Broderick seemed to be just going through the motions.
Don't see it if You're looking for a well acted, funny, sharp comedy