Written by A.R. Gurney Jr., “Sylvia” is about Greg and Kate, a middle-aged couple who have an empty nest. Greg is going through a midlife crisis and brings home a dog named Sylvia. In the story he latches onto her in an unexpected way—to the dismay of his wife.
Scott Phillips, director of the play and associate professor of theatre, said Sylvia is like “the other woman, in a kind of way. The dog becomes a point of obsession for (Greg). He sees her as a human being and that’s kind of the problem.”
Phillips said Sylvia has many human characteristics, such as the ability to talk, argue and flirt with Greg.
“It’s the view of a dog through the eyes of a man having a crisis,” Phillips said.
Peters, senior in theatre, said it was important for her to balance Sylvia’s dog-like characteristics with her human ones.
“In the beginning she starts out like a dog,” Peters said. “But as Greg gets more attached, he sees her as human. And as Kate gets more jealous, she sees her as the other woman.”
Sylvia brings attention to marital issues between Greg and Kate.
“She becomes the focal point of all kinds of problems that Greg is having in his marriage,” Phillips said. “The play is about him working through his midlife anxieties through his dog.”
Even though Greg and Kate see Sylvia as a person, Peters still gets to bring out her inner-dog on stage.
“It’s very hard, but it’s been a fun experience,” Peters said. “I get to run all around the stage, wag my tail, lay on the floor. It’s tiring really.”
Marcus Clement, senior in theatre who plays the role of Greg, said he’s had to look for inspiration in interacting with Peters’ character.
“I have to remember the ways that I play with my own dogs,”Clement said. “Sort of rub their bellies and scratch their ears, but also see (Sylvia) with more of a personality.”
He said the play is really more about the relationship between Greg and Kate, but Sylvia moves the story along and makes it relatable.
“It shows how you can use a dog to sort of cope with a big crisis in life, no matter what kind of crisis it is,” Clement said.
Stage manager Beth Alexander said the play is for anyone who loves dogs.
“If you’ve ever had a dog or know anyone who has a dog, you’re gonna love this show,” Alexander said. “It’s exactly how humans treat their dogs, and it’s hilarious that this playwright has managed to tap into this mentality of treating our dogs like humans.”
Alexander said “Sylvia” is a play that a lot of people can relate to.
“It’s very funny watching someone respond in the way you actually think a dog would,” she said. “It’s just a really great, funny, heart-warming, high-energy show, and we’re really looking forward to performing it.”
The production opens Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Telfair Peet Theatre.