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Sylvia is a New York dog, brutally honest and in her own self-centered world. She will show you affection but really only cares about herself. What do you expect? She is just a dog, but to a dog owner, she’s more than just a dog, right? 

“Sylvia” is not about the dog; it is about relationships and the obstacles we have to overcome to keep them together. Greg, played by Matthew C. Scott, is going through a midlife crisis and is a convincing lost puppy. His solution is to latch onto a dog, and his wife, Kate, has to deal with the four-legged obstacle.

We all talk to our pets and put words into their mouths. Marissa Martinez makes her position in this ménage-a-dog very clear; she is going to claim her place. Sylvia says everything those around her think, or is it her perspective. Marissa does a masterful job of giving you both, while not letting you forget that she is a dog. Most people who have dogs will identify with thinking of our pets as almost human, and Marissa walks that edge beautifully.

They say, “in show business, never work with animals and children; they will steal the show.” It is especially hard when they get all the great lines and are as captivating as Marissa Martinez.

MoMo Lamping, has the difficult task of taking on the dog. It is hard to sympathize with someone in that position. But she holds her own in this unique New York fight. The production on a whole needs a little more New York intensity and pace.  Drew Arnold helps give the show its New York attitude; he is versatile and fearless.

Director Brad Raimondo makes good use of a simple setting. Since this is more of a character piece, the focus is more on the actors and their relationships, so Raimondo keeps the attention on them by not overcomplicating the staging. 

For all couples in long-term relationships, you will have no difficulty relating to the characters and what they are going through. No matter what obstacle might come between you, you have to work through it to make your relationship stronger, as this play so creatively portrays.

See “Sylvia” at the Grace Performing Arts Center at 316 S. Main St., Princeton. Remaining show times include 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 5; 2 p.m., Sunday, July 6; and 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 8. Call the Festival 56 Box Office for availability at 815-879-5656.

Editor’s note: Watch the BCR for continuing reviews of all the Festival 56 productions.

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