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LALT tackles comedy and comes out victorious in ‘Sylvia’

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By Kirsten Laskey

On the surface the play, “Sylvia,” looks like a light-hearted comedy about a wacky dog and the impact she has on her new owners. It is light, fluffy entertainment for a Friday or Saturday evening.

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However, this play also seems to offer something more. It shows a couple that learns some valuable life lessons through an unusual source – the family pet.

In many respects, “Sylvia,” reminds me of the book, “Marley and Me.” Both showcase a dog that is a charismatic, hysterical, troublemaker. They both get their paws, and teeth, into every niche of the home.

Plus, both these dogs’ owners conclude they learned a lot from their pets.

However, Sylvia, a poodle, has a far filthier mouth than the Labrador in “Marley” ever did and her relationship to one of her owners causes the other to go berserk.

Comedy does not appear to be an easy genre to tackle. What one person might howl in laughter at, another might just roll their eyes. “Sylvia” has a particularly jaunting task of making a person pretending to be a dog funny.

But the play nails it. There is a lot of swearing in the play and a hint of raunchy humor, but the Los Alamos Little Theater has the audience cracking up with its production of “Sylvia.”

It helps that everyone in the cast is in fine comic form. My particular favorites are Tom (Eric Björklund) and Leslie (Jeff Favorite).

I love Tom’s casual strut and how he reacts to Sylvia’s and his dog’s sexual rendezvous. Plus, Leslie’s initial girly demeanor slowly dissolving into male macho behavior practically steals the show.

However, no one quite shines as much as Kaki Kelly as Kate and Shay Lower as Sylvia.

Kelly brilliantly shows Kate’s slow unraveling as she becomes more and more convinced that Sylvia is out to destroy her marriage. And Lower, whether she is telling off a cat or showing off her newly groomed look, is fantastic.

The best part of the play is when Kate and Sylvia bare their teeth and declare war in a battle to win Greg’s affections.

Additionally, John Gustafson (Greg) and Phyllis (Pat Beck) generate a lot of laughs.

The sets and costumes also deserve to be applauded.

The production crew made effective use of some simple sets, which include Kate and Greg’s apartment, the dog park, Leslie’s office and an airport.

It isn’t anything too elaborate to distract people from the comic mayhem that occurs on the stage and yet you still get the sense of sitting in a park, watching dogs romp around, or walking around a small, cramped New York City apartment.

I love how the costumes reflect the changes the characters undergo.

Sylvia is cleverly dressed as a hobo with torn overalls at the beginning of play but as she continues to thrive in Kate and Greg’s apartment, her look evolves into something an’80s rock star might wear – a frilly petticoat with electric blue tights and a stretched-out T-shirt.

Greg’s look also changes. A victim of a mid-life crisis and a slave to his dog’s affection, Greg gradually ditches his conventional tie and button-down shirt for tie-dye shirts and Birkenstock sandals.

The acting, sets and costumes – it all completes the package of a well-done play. LALT’s production of “Sylvia” will continue to be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday as well as March 26 and 27.

There will be matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors.