Rated 4.0

This show is a real dog, and that’s a good thing. Sylvia is the eponymous tale of a dog that enters the lives of a pair of empty-nesters and turns everything upside-down, as dogs sometimes do.

In spite of a barrel full of anthropomorphism, life’s lessons are well-learned from dogs: don’t pay too much attention to anything except food, love and sex; and don’t poop where you eat.

Hyperkinetic Tate Hanyok plays Sylvia, a Labradoodle with abandonment issues. Hanyok mimics animal body language without losing the advantages of her incredibly human face, and her foul mouth is surprising but funny.

Michael Stevenson and Jamie Jones are witty and believable as Greg and Kate, a mid-life married couple coping with changes in both his willingness to seek a career and her longing to do so. And David Pierini is hilarious as a number of characters of both (and indeterminate) genders.

It’s a kibble-bowl full of laughs as Sylvia, under the direction of Jerry Montoya, reminds us that sometimes it takes an animal to restore our humanity.