"You have a conflict between a man who feels like he's at the end of his useful existence and a woman who feels like life is just opening up to her," Husting said. "Greg, in the course of his job dissatisfaction, has taken to playing hooky during the day and going for long afternoon strolls in Central Park, and on one of these strolls, he is accosted by a stray dog [and] they bond instantly.
"She has a tag but the only thing that the tag says is her name, which is Sylvia. And he brings her home and much to the consternation of his wife, he sees the dog as his soul mate, his provider of unconditional love and admiration. His wife, Kate, sees the addition of a dog to the family as a millstone, something that's going to impede their ability to go out in the evening or travel or even have friends [over]."
Originally portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker, the production calls for a female actress to play the part of Sylvia. For Husting, the casting choice of a free-spirited woman in her early 20s provides the audience a new take on the situation.
"What it does is it enters the world of theater of the absurd, where because of a really absurd presentation or juxtaposition of elements you in the audience are forced to think of a situation in different terms," she said. "It's like, 'This is so crazy, but wait a minute.' So you see Greg and Kate's mid-life marital crisis in different terms ... When Kate finally convinces Greg it would be in the best interest of their marriage to find another home for Sylvia, Sylvia sits Kate down and says to her, 'You have said to me you wished things could have been otherwise. I'll tell you what otherwise is. Otherwise is the guy who ran off with the children's nanny. Otherwise is the guy who got out a gun and shot his wife while she was at her aerobics class.'
"She talks about all these things that can and have and do happen to people when they reach a breaking point in their marriage. And she convinces Kate that her presence in their life wasn't so bad if she could just have let herself be open to it. And it does end up having a happy ending. But what A.R. Gurney does is force us to look at the changes we make in our lives in a new and fresh perspective because the dog really does become the other woman in both their lives."
To be held at The Legion Theatre, 114 W. Main St. in Cartersville, the play is being presented April 29, 30 and May 6, 7, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m.; and May 1 and 8 at 3 p.m. The cast is led by Kara Duke as Sylvia, Maureen Krivo as Kate and Tom Owens as Greg. Tickets for "Sylvia" are $12 for general admission and $10 for Pumphouse Players' members and groups larger than 10 people.
Drawing on the play's subject matter, The Pumphouse Players also are working with the Etowah Valley Humane Society to promote the production.
"It's just a really cute play," said Dave Boggess, president of The Pumphouse Players. "And if anybody's ever owned a dog or especially [if] they've adopted or saved a dog by pulling it off the street like the Etowah Valley Humane Society does, then they will really relate to this play and really understand the person who wrote this play really understands dogs and [comprehends] how they think and why they think. So we felt like it was a perfect tie in with the Etowah Valley Humane Society and what we worked out with them is that we allowed them to buy tickets at the group rate, which is $10.
"If you have more than 10 people attending a show, we allow them to buy as many tickets as they [want] at the group rate and then they can sell them for any price they want. So they can sell them for $15 or $20. So we get our $10 for our ticket, and then they get whatever proceeds they [make]. So it's really just a hand-in-hand, win-win situation for both of us. They have a clientele. They have a group of people that give great support for that organization, and I think everybody that supports that organization will really relate to this show. So it's going to be a real great collaboration between these two nonprofits."
For more information, visit www.pumphouseplayers.com or call 770-387-2610. More details can be obtained about the EVHS -- a 4,928-square-foot animal shelter at 36 Ladd's Mountain Road in Cartersville -- by calling 770-383-3338 or visiting www.etowahvalleyhumane.org.