A.R. Gurney's enjoyable 1995 comedy unpacks both the humor and the cruelty within a marriage when a man in mid-life crisis brings home an attractive female dog, forming a bond that excludes and insults his wife. "He thinks I shit ice cream," brags Sylvia the dog (comely-cute Linda K. Morris) to Kate the human (angular beauty Mari Nelson), whose husband Greg (Alban Dennis) has adopted Sylvia without marital consent. There's a clear mistress/nymphette vibe to Sylvia; yet the fact that she's merely a dog makes Kate feel pathetic about her jealousy in this Upper West Side love triangle. So begins a knock-down, drag-out battle of the species that, while provoking a cascade of easy laughs, discreetly fortifies them with philosophical fiber. Played too broadly, Sylvia could be a shticky ordeal of canine caricature. But thanks to the direction of R. Hamilton Wright (Greg in the Rep's 1996 production), the pacing is smart and the performances excellent. For non-dog people, Kate is the hero, valiantly fighting for civility, reason, and unmediated human intimacy. Kate's lonely dignity--combined with the crummy remarriage statistics for women of a certain age--makes it easy to feel her pain. (Runs Tues.-Sun. See website for exact schedule. Ends Dec. 11.) MARGARET FRIEDMAN [See Margaret's full review.]

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Nov. 11. Continues through Dec. 11, 2011

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