Lana has advance Central Alberta Theatre players Mary Cook as Kate

Canine comedy howls again

Most everybody loves a good dog story — all sorts of people have been reminding Judith Moody of this.

Most everybody loves a good dog story — all sorts of people have been reminding Judith Moody of this.

Moody last directed the comic play Sylvia, about a strong bond that grows between a middle-aged man and a dog, five years ago.

Since that time, nary a year has gone by without somebody at a grocery store or other Red Deer location stopping to ask her: When is Central Alberta Theatre going to do that “hilarious” dog play again?

Just lately, Moody said she’s been able to appease these people by telling them: soon.

A remounted production of Sylvia, by A.R. Gurney, will open on Thursday at City Centre Stage in downtown Red Deer.

Everyone who relished Debby Allan in the title role as the wonderful, terrible, adorable labradoodle will be thrilled to know she will be reprising the part of Sylvia.

But the rest of the cast will be made up of new actors — although they are not new to CAT productions.

Craig Scott, who’s played everyone from cowboys to Sherlock Holmes, will portray Greg — a slightly desperate middle-aged man, who falls for Sylvia from the moment the two meet in New York’s Central Park.

(Moody believes it was inspired casting to have Scott act in scenes with Allan, since he is a looming height of six-foot-five, compared to her compact four-foot-10. “It’s a great contrast.”)

The play starts with Greg trying to cool off in the park after having a fight with his boss at work. Sylvia approaches and is immediately bouncy and affectionate. She lightens his mood and he ends up taking the dog home with him after being unable to locate her owner.

Greg’s wife Kate, played by Mary Cook, another CAT veteran, is not so crazy about Sylvia.

Mary likes being an empty nester who is not over-encumbered by responsibilities. She relishes the chance to get ahead in her career and be free to travel, said Moody.

Greg reluctantly agrees that Sylvia will stay for a few days — only until he can find her another home. But Greg and Sylvia have already bonded, so days turn into weeks, then months.

Tension increases between Greg and Kate, who still does not like Sylvia. When Kate begins to fear Greg’s obsession with the dog is threatening their relationship, the couple ends up in front of a marriage counsellor (depicted by Gord Phillips, who also plays two other small roles in the play, including Kate’s female friend from college).

Moody admits Greg is officially in the throes of a mid-life crisis. “Instead of getting a Porsche or a girlfriend, he hangs out with this dog.”

And why wouldn’t he?

Sylvia is uncomplicated. She is not judgmental. She understands Greg’s moods and is always happy just to be with him. Moody said these are the same reasons so many dog owners are attached to their pets.

It’s also why the play becomes unexpectedly moving when Sylvia’s future with Greg and Kate is on shaky ground.

“So many people have dogs, and dogs can express exactly how they are feeling with their face and their body. You would know what they would say if they could,” said Moody, who has a golden retriever.

“There’s no pretense, no subterfuge . . . . “Dogs drink out of the toilet, which is gross, and they stick their noses into your friends’ crotches when they visit, until you want to die of embarrassment.”

But on the other hand, Moody noted that dogs are the most excited to see you when you come home in the evening.

“You just know this playwright had to be a dog owner or a dog lover. …” For Moody believes anyone who’s ever loved a dog will love Sylvia.

Moody is certainly fond of the play as this is the third time she is directing it (the first time was for a playhouse in her native B.C.).

As Moody will soon be moving back to the Vancouver area, she said she’s glad this production will be her swan song with CAT.

Just Posted

Updated: SUV smashes through fences and deck in Anders

Driver taken to hospital after SUV veered off 30th Avenue into Anders

Red Deer’s new ‘equity co-ordinator’ will promote tolerance

Andrea Lacoursiere was hired by city with Alberta Human Rights funding

More bridge work this summer in Red Deer’s Coronation Park

The park’s north bridge is being rebuilt to ensure safety

Man badly injured in off-road vehicle collision on Saturday

Incident happened in Mountain View County about 10:50 p.m.

Heat warning in effect for Central Alberta

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for Central Alberta. Residents in… Continue reading

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Lava crashes through roof of Hawaii tour boat, injuring 23

HONOLULU — An explosion caused by lava oozing into the ocean sent… Continue reading

Banff holds blessing ceremony with Indigenous elders before letting bison roam

BANFF, Alta. — Several Indigenous elders were flown by helicopter into the… Continue reading

Research expedition looks at unseen depths of Labrador Sea ecosystem

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Last summer, a team of scientists returned from… Continue reading

Protesters camped outside Saskatchewan legislature taking province to court

REGINA — Protesters camped outside the Saskatchewan legislature say they are taking… Continue reading

British PM accepts key amendments from hardline Brexiteers

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday accepted amendments to… Continue reading

‘City of icebergs:’ Study says 100s of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

The statistics in her recently published paper say it all: hundreds of… Continue reading

U.S. hits back with WTO challenge against Canada’s retaliatory tariffs

OTTAWA — The United States fired back Monday at the Canadian government’s… Continue reading

Croatia gears up to give heroes’ welcome to World Cup team

ZAGREB, Croatia — Fans are pouring in from throughout the country as… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month