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Sylvia
Midtown W
79

Sylvia NYC Reviews and Tickets

79%
(410 Reviews)
Positive
83%
Mixed
13%
Negative
4%
Members say
Funny, Clever, Entertaining, Delightful, Great acting

About the Show

Matthew Broderick stars in the Broadway revival about a couple whose lives are changed when the husband brings home a dog he finds in Central Park.

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Member Reviews (410)

70
Funny, Dated, Fluffy, Quirky

See it if you like light comedies or want to see Matthew Broderick onstage.

Don't see it if you don't like dogs or comedic shows.

50
Disappointing, Insipid, Quirky, Fluffy, Indulgent

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

Critic Reviews (49)

October 27th, 2015

"'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."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 27th, 2015

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."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 27th, 2015

"Just as quickly as a puppy can forget its mission du jour (be it bone or ball), so can a cynical audience member dither between delight and dismay at a 125-minute play about a man’s mutt-borne midlife-crisis. Eventually, the dog wears you down... Even to the most pessimistic, 'Sylvia' is innocuous and zippy, surprisingly foul-mouthed, and perhaps the very definition of disarmingly funny."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 28th, 2015

"'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."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 27th, 2015

"It’s just a cute and clever conceit. But not quite enough to sustain two hours. Director Daniel Sullivan has a light touch with his a tightknit ensemble, but the play is undercooked and overlong."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 28th, 2015

"If you are a dog person, you are likely to fall in love with 'Sylvia.' However, Daniel Sullivan's production of A.R. Gurney's 1995 play is so warm and bitingly funny, you'd have to be an absolute Grinch to resist its immense charms."
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October 27th, 2015

"'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."
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October 28th, 2015

"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."
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November 3rd, 2015

"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."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 27th, 2015

"What an enjoyable evening. I generally prefer a dark and difficult drama, but what a breath of fresh air my time at 'Sylvia' was. The cast and team manage to utilize serious ideas in a charming way. I left feeling warmed at their jovial portrayal of Greg's mid-life crisis. There is some profanity, and some symbolic analogies about problems in relationships; with this superb cast it gives the show a bit of depth."
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October 27th, 2015

"A wonderful revival... Hardly a ménage-a-trois in the conventional sense, Gurney invests this unconventional love story with plenty of humorous dog-eared incidents and dialogue. Necessarily intrusive, but laugh-getting and certainly scene-stealing is the triple role-playing by Robert Sella. All four actors have been put through their paws and paces with a controlling leash by director Daniel Sullivan."
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October 31st, 2015

"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."
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November 17th, 2015

"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."
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November 7th, 2015

"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."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 16th, 2015

"A.R. Gurney’s charming but inconsequential play has finally made it to Broadway... You may forget the play five minutes after it ends, but you will likely enjoy it while you're watching it."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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December 2nd, 2015

"The show, at least as straight-forwardly directed by Daniel Sullivan, has a lot more in common with Neil Simon's boulevard comedies of the 1960s and '70s than it does with today's edgier laugh fests like 'Hand to God'...The fun of the play rests in imagining how it would be to be able to relate to one's own pet so directly and watching an actress find inventive ways to mimic doggie behavior."
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October 27th, 2015

"Ashford has the juiciest role, of course, and she plays it to hilt, without letting Sylvia chew the scenery (or Kate's red heels) entirely. The actress is a riot sliding on knee pads, wagging her legs around and rushing down the aisle to suggest hot pursuit of a male canine. But it's Ashford's enormously expressive face that draws us in most...Even the unenlightened -- that is, folks who don't already love dogs -- are bound to lose their hearts."
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October 27th, 2015

"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."
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October 28th, 2015

"If you spend the play waiting for the concept to deliver a major payoff, and it doesn’t... And yet, Ashford lends the proceedings enough charm to keep them entertaining throughout, provided you’re able to get past the misogynist premise that she is, in fact, a woman on a leash at a man’s beck and call. Her spastic physicality, priceless mugging, and ultimately deeply felt performance anchor what is otherwise a featherweight production."
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October 28th, 2015

"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."
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October 27th, 2015

"A lovely device has theatergoers filing out of the Cort while pictures of dogs belonging to producers, crew and audience members (via social media) flash by on a screen. 'Sylvia' is going to be a mastiff-sized hit with animal lovers. I didn’t have an abiding affection for this production, but you could certainly call it puppy love."
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November 1st, 2015

"'Sylvia' is a fanciful but slight dessert sort of a play, so have yourself a satisfying meal before ordering it up. It’s light and funny and easily digestible, so have a go. And then there’s Ms. Annaleigh Ashford, who is sort of the whipped cream on top making it all a real and rare treat."
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October 27th, 2015

"'Sylvia' is very sweet and very slight. And, indeed, whenever the tireless Ashford is on stage this production strikes just the right balance between sentimental and silly... Perhaps hardcore dog owners won't care about the wobbly tone, or the fact that such a small-scaled show looks a tad adrift on a large Broadway stage. For the rest of us, 'Sylvia' ends up feeling like the proverbial dog that won't hunt."
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October 30th, 2015

"'Sylvia’s' paper-thin plot on a big Broadway stage has shrunk to a wisp of an idea even if you’re a fan of canine humor…Annaleigh Ashford is delightful as usual but with social media making it harder and harder these days to appreciate a feisty talking dog on stage, all is not kibbles and bits…Considering 'Sylvia’s' dated plot, Mathew Broderick’s low-energy performance, and Daniel Sullivan’s flimsy direction, there is hardly any reason to sit up, pant or roll over with delight."
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October 27th, 2015

"'Sylvia' has often been knocked as a slight play, one that relies on a single gag. But with this cast and David Rockwell's fine sets, it's a welcome treat. You might even call it fetching."
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October 28th, 2015

"Broderick exudes no emotion, hardly moves his arms or legs. He seems so exhausted by showing up at the theater that he can barely even remember his lines...You know that thing Jimmy Fallon used to do, when he’d lose his you-know-what during a sketch? It’s pretty funny, if unprofessional, on a television comedy show. But it’s downright shameful when it happens at a $150-a-ticket Broadway play."
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October 29th, 2015

"'Sylvia' is just a fine play, one to dig up when you have a star like Ashford to keep audiences wagging their tails."
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November 9th, 2015

"My initial suspicions about this play being demeaning to women — a young cute 20-something has to get on the ground and pretend to be a dog for her male master? why couldn’t it be a male dog? — proved less complicated than I feared. The fact that Sylvia is female is directly addressed between Matthew Broderick’s character and a fellow dog owner in the park. Bottom line: this is a very funny comedy and if you love dogs, you’ll love 'Sylvia.'"
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November 1st, 2015

"The source of most of the show's humor comes from the fact that we have a human playing the dog, and in taking full advantage of the comic potential, Ashford certainly doesn't disappoint. The production is worth the trip for Ashford's antics alone. The play, and the production, are certainly diverting...I experienced quite a few laughs of recognition at all the kooky canine shenanigans. But other than that, there's really not much to the play."
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November 7th, 2015

"In this slick, brassy revival by director Daniel Sullivan, 'Sylvia' is in the extremely capable hands of Annaleigh Ashford, an adroit physical comedienne...Perhaps Sullivan felt that Gurney's paper-thin play needed embellishing and so has Sella overact to the detriment of the small-scale joke at the play's center. But that isn't enough to derail this minor but entertaining comedy from one of our true living masters."
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November 6th, 2015

"'Sylvia' is A.R. Gurney's most obvious (and probably only) crowd-pleaser...Whenever Ashford barks—'hey hey hey hey!'—it could be love, hate, anger, affection or irritation, and Ashford varies her tone and timbre to suit the occasion. The actress's showiness is out of necessity since it's a show-offy role, but Ashford smartly underplays as much as possible, and it's to her credit that she makes Sylvia (pooch and play) funnier and more affecting than it has any right to be."
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October 28th, 2015

"Sullivan’s direction is stilted and unimaginative. The interesting underbelly of this theatrical beast is never itched. Only White’s exemplary efforts and Ashford’s winning guile lift this above the litter tray."
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November 9th, 2015

"The amusing concept is dependent upon the Sylvia actor’s immersion and believability as a canine – and on keeping the 'love story' this side of weird. Thanks to Ashford’s agility and brightly-clipped manner, the former requirement is met. Her naughty Sylvia is lovable...The latter boundary is fuzzy, due to the now-dated script and Broderick’s juvenile demeanor."
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November 3rd, 2015

"Ultimately, 'Sylvia' is a hilarious, screwball play with energetic performances. The costumes, set designs, and acting are all on point, crafting a memorable Broadway experience. Director Daniel J. Sullivan has brought A.R. Gurney’s 'Sylvia' to Broadway with colorful fun."
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November 7th, 2015

"How can anyone not fall in love with Sylvia? Especially as portrayed by Annaleigh Ashford who is well on her way to fetching another Tony for her full immersion in doggy behavior and brilliant comedic timing…'Sylvia' is extremely funny…Daniel Sullivan has directed with a steady leash…As they say 'Every dog has its day' and Sylvia is the mutt of the moment. Highly recommended."
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October 28th, 2015

"Whether you love tiny little dogs that you can carry in your purse or the really big kind that scares everyone away, you will love 'Sylvia'... Among the many laughs I had, I also cried. But, I won’t spoil that for you. Just be sure to stay when the ‘run the credits.’ You’ll be happy you did. "
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October 27th, 2015

"Ashford does a remarkable job combining animalistic qualities and their humanistic counterparts. If dogs could talk, Ashford would be barking up the right tree. A large part of that is Gurney’s writing. His script is worded so well that the brute honesty comes off light-hearted and funny, aside from the few scenes where seriousness matters. In those, the words are so striking that they take a second to sink in before you realize how strong they are."
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October 27th, 2015

"Broderick is a wonderful straight man and compliments Ashford's amazing performance, which is a truly unique comic turn, as she somehow makes the title character completely believable...Unfortunately, she and Broderick lack chemistry and that is my only problem with an otherwise enjoyable and fun theatrical experience."
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