Sylvia by A.R. Gurney and Haven Rooftop

Written before the rescue dog renaissance, yet anticipating it totally, Sylvia is A.R. Gurney’s most beloved play. This beautiful revival should satisfy the 1.1 million dog owners in New York City. The stray poodle mix that Greg (Matthew Broderick) picks up is rejected for every reason by his wife Kate (Julie White). West Siders who live along Central Park, the play has that romantic backdrop—a lower skyline from 1993, and moves on through Bill Clinton’s re-election, with references to Kitty Carlisle Hart and Bella Abzug.

Many couples can relate to the jealousy that erupts when a dog is brought into the equation. Kate wishes that it were an affair instead: “Any wife worth her salt can manage that.” Really? And was the play’s transgender shrink (Robert Sella, who plays three characters, including a female and a male), added to keep up with the times? But that gives Sylvia some meat.

Even Broderick’s heartthrob boyhood roles contained a layer of irony that is denied him in the part of Greg—he might do better switching parts with Julie White, what with White's real-life love of dogs and Kate's Shakespearean histrionics. Also straining at the leash, Annaleigh Ashford plays the poodle Sylvia with genius comic timing and maximum lovable-ness. (It’s a tough part that was also well played by Broderick’s partner, Sarah Jessica Parker.) Wish we saw Ashford’s Tony turn in You Can’t Take It With You; her transcendent working-class girlfriend redeemed Kinky Boots for us. We loved those Welsh Corgis in last season’s The Audience. The addition of a real dog or two in the park scenes would make us like this Sylvia even more.

Around the corner from the  Cort Theatre, Haven Rooftop is a year-round outdoor rooftop restaurant open late, and a young person’s hangout with both loud music and great food—a combination you don’t often find.  Havenly Chicken is a well-seasoned, fanned-out chicken breast in beurre blanc, with tender mesclun salad and a heap of fries. (It was enough to share, only $21.) Arugula Parmesan, “Holy” truffle fries and the stacked crab and avocado appetizer were delicious, and the shrimp and shaved Brussels sprouts another inspired combination. With a spiky midtown view of skyscrapers and Gothic church, and a transparent ceiling, we’ll return one day when it’s snowing and sample the winter menu.

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