Eastbound Theatre, Milford: If you haven’t been to Eastbound Theatre lately, there’s something very new going on. On Friday and Saturday performances, the theater offers cabaret seating and BYO-Everything. There’s also wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks available in the theater’s lounge. I can’t think of a more perfect way to sit back and enjoy A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia. This comedy plays through Feb. 18. Kevin Pelky directs the show and Kate Buffone plays the title role. Oh, by the way, Sylvia is a dog.
I saw Kate Buffone in this role when she played it at the Goshen Playhouse, so of course, new director and new cast means new Sylvia or does it? “Oh, what a difference,” Kate said with a laugh. Kevin wants energy, a lot of energy. I’m jumping off the couch, off the chair, and I’m practically bouncing around the stage constantly. That’s very different from the way the director wanted me to play the role in Goshen.” All productions of this show pack the house because playwright A.R. Gurney knew people couldn’t resist a good dog story and he came up with a winner.
Characters Greg and Kate have grown children and are starting new phases in their lives. The adjustment period is complicated because Greg comes home with a dog he found in the park. The dog tag spells Sylvia, but the dog spells trouble. First of all Kate doesn’t want the dog. Secondly, the dog is a streetwise kind of pooch. Sylvia just might come between this husband and wife, unless something like compromise is unleashed. “I like playing wise-ass characters,” said Buffone.
“We sold out on Friday and Saturday and we had the best audience ever for the Sunday matinee,” said Kate Buffone. Having played the role twice now, she maintains that her favorite scene is when she sees a cat in the distance. “I have to chase her of course,” laughed Kate. “The thing is that I get very, very angry and I start using all kinds of bad language. So I build up this momentum and then I just go blank. I just change my mind and direction.” It sounds as though she has spent some serious time observing dog behavior. I know that she dissected the role through and through.
Last Saturday, “Sylvia” had a benefit performance for Missy’s Mission, a non-profit organization which places homeless dogs and puppies from rescues into safe homes. According to Kate, all the puppies that were at the theater were adopted.
I have seen this play many times and I spent many a good conversation with Pete Gurney about this play. I was delighted that Kate Buffone played the role because I reviewed her performance in Goshen. However, as I sip my tea, take my meds, and wait for this wretched flu to become a thing of the past, I know that audiences are having a great time at Eastbound. Box office: 203-878-6647.
Joanne Greco Rochman was a founding member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected].