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Sylvia by A.R Gurney

This was our VDL Entry for 2015 and at the Awards night Cathouse recieved a VDL Adjudicator's Award for Best Original Score to Galliano Sommavilla, as well as nominations for: Best Actress in a Comedy — Rauri Barker, Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy — Margaret Healy, Best Director of a Comedy — Bette Sartore


This charming play tells of Greg and Kate, two empty nesters from the 'burbs, who've moved back to Manhattan. From a chance meeting in the park, Greg brings home Sylvia, a street-smart lab/poodle stray. complete with eager-to-please charm and unconditional love. Greg quickly becomes besotted with this endearing pooch, but Kate, not so, and there's no room in her life any more for man's best friend. Despite well-meaning advice from several humans, Sylvia becomes a bone of contention between Greg and Kate, testing their marriage to hilarious and touching effect.

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Photo Gallery

Sylvia Pic Photo Christine Sayer

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Cast & Crew

Sylvia Rauri Barker
Greg Frank Sartore
Kate   Fiona Agyeman
Phyllis/Leslie Margaret Healy
Tom Brian Fitches
Director Bette Sartore
Assistant Director Maggie Browne
Stage Manager Brian Fitches
Set Design and Construction Brian Fitches & Cathouse Members
Lighting & Sound Gail (Murfi) McGregor, Geoff Murray
Backstage    Rob McGregor, Thomas Ridley
Front of House/Tickets Katie Fitches
Music Galliano Sommavilla

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VDL Critique

by A. R. Gurney Cathouse Players
Directed by Bette Sartore
Reviewed by Ewen Crockett - May 9, 2015

Please bear with the following pre-amble; there is a point to it, which I'll get to shortly. I grew up with dogs, working dogs, more like mates than pets, but very good mates. When I moved to the city and when my son was about three years old I rescued a small puppy from the street, dumped by some heartless person. She could easily fit into the palm of my hand and never grew much larger. A Bitzer cross between a Dachshund, and, by the sound of her bark, a Great Dane, she was the smartest and most streetwise dog I have ever known. She so enjoyed rounding up all the kids in the street and keeping them safe from passing traffic; that's how she met her demise, rushing onto the street to warn the kids of an approaching car. She got the children to safety but didn't manage to get herself out of the way of that idiot speedster. I had named her Gretchen, not Sylvia, but "a rose by any other name..."
So, I have an affinity with this play, Sylvia. I've seen it now five times and have enjoyed it every time I've seen Sylvia played as anything from a Jack Russell to a Labrador and, most recently at Cathouse Players, an Old English Sheep Dog, l think. It makes no difference to the content of the play so long as Sylvia is played well with enthusiasm and understanding. (Yes, I know she is supposed to be a poodle, but give me some latitude.)
On the face of it you could be forgiven for thinking that this play is just a piece of anthropomorphised, entertaining fluff. You know the sort of thing: Man rescues Dog, Dog loves Man, Wife hates Dog and so the plot, what there is of it, would trip gaily along to the final moments of the denouement where everybody suddenly loves everybody and they all live happily ever after.
You would be wrong! On delving a bit deeper into the script you discover that it is in fact an allegorical tale covering all those nasty little facets of any relationship that often remain unspoken and therefore unknown. Here is the point to my pre-amble; it is not until you have been in such a relationship that you realise just how much and how often our pets become a channel for our own misgivings and emotions.
Director Bette Sartore has done a remarkable job, with a little help from A. R. Gurney, in projecting that affinity to the audience.
Sartore utilises the talents of Rauri Barker, as Sylvia, to deftly unhinge that particular Pandora's Box and expose all those nasty little facets. As the plot unfolds (and there is one) with humour, pathos and a good deal of audience empathy, we see the nasties being exposed and dealt with, sometimes knowingly, sometimes unknowingly. If I were to fault her direction I would say that she held the reins loosely and so missed some important character development.
Now, to the actors: suffice it to say that I enjoyed this production, with a few quibbles, so I'll be brief (a first for me). All the actors performed to a high standard, so I'll just mention those things that I liked and those that I didn't in each role.
Rauri Barker in the title role was at times a touch over-enthusiastic; however, her understanding of dog language, both body and vocal, was evident, which helped to make Sylvia believable.

Review by Lisa Dennis - Midland Express 5th May 2015

 "The Cathouse Players latest production, Sylvia by A.R. Gurney did not disappoint, providing plenty of laughs when it opened to local audiences at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute last weekend, May 1,2,3.
Director Bette Sartore has once again brought together a wonderfully talented cast, an innovative set featuring artwork by Pauline Woodhouse and seamless lighting and sound.
The play is set in Manhattan in 1990 and tells the tale of empty nesters Greg and Kate.
The couple has just moved from the suburbs into a modern apartment and Kate has recently completed her teaching degree and is excited to pass on her love of Shakespeare to junior high students.
Greg on the other hand is stuck in a job he hates and is suffocating.
Just when the pair should be enjoying the prime of their lives, a new woman comes barging in and threatens to destroy their marriage.
But this new relationship is not what you think! And that's where the laughs begin!
Talented young actress, Rauri Barker, delivers an amazing performance. The actress and singer has featured in countless shows and one-act plays and is also a director in her own right.
Watch this space - Rauri is set for big things. She is joined on stage by experienced Cathouse thespians, Frank Sartore, Fiona Agyeman, Brian Fitches and Margaret Healy.
With just two shows left - this Friday night, May 8, at 8pm and Saturday, May 9 (Gala Night) at 8pm - be quick to secure your tickets and go along. For ticketsm visit the Cathouse Players website."

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