A.R. Gurney’s comedy about a strange kinda love triangle boasts a quartet of powerhouse performances

In the film Shakespeare in Love, the Elizabethan theatre entrepreneur Phillip Henslowe, played by Geoffrey Rush, thinks he’s arrived at a foolproof formula for a play’s success: A love story, a shipwreck and “a bit with a dog.”

Sylvia, now playing at the Arvada Center, may not offer a shipwreck, but it certainly is a love story.

And, as for “a bit with a dog,” this play by the legendary playwright A.R. Gurney has it in, well, spayeds.

What makes Sylvia worth seeing is Jessica Robblee as the talking, licking, romping, sidling, and yes, peeing Labradoodle whose presence transforms the life of its owner while encroaching on his sleepwalking marriage.

Last seen as Titania in Midsummer Night’s dream, and Athena in The Odyssey, both at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, one imagines this gifted and versatile actress saying, “enough with this classical stuff, I want to play a dog.”

It helps that Robblee is surrounded by one of the most talented casts on the stage this fall.

As Sylvia’s gentle owner Greg, Gareth Saxe plays a man falling headlong into a mid-life crisis before being resurrected by his new furry friend.

Unhappy at work, the kids flown from the nest, Greg is cooped up with his wife in a Manhattan condo when he meets and is seduced by Sylvia in Central Park.

Saxe ambles gingerly around the stage as he navigates perfectly between the Scylla of his love for his pet and the Charybdis sparked by the jealousy and concern of his wife Kate, played with the appropriate straight-woman deftness of Kate Gleason.

Rodney Lizcano, also fresh from a summer performing the classics, courageously takes on three roles and conquers them all with his trademark elasticity: As a Bronx-accented fellow dog owner who warns Greg of the perils of falling in love with a canine; as Phyllis, a blue-blooded friend of Kate’s whose visit to the condo is frequently interrupted by Sylvia’s crotch-sniffing (“nice crotch, nice crotch”); and as a therapist of indeterminate gender — think Sally Jessy Raphael crossed with Richard Simmons.

But in the end, this show has to belong to Robblee and her hilarious performance as man’s best friend. It’s a high-wire act that Robblee confidently embraces without an ounce of actorly inhibition.

Robblee paws at the furniture, sniffs everything and everyone, drags her butt across the carpet, lolls about in the lap of her beloved master and — my favorite — flirts mid-theater with the audience before gamboling off stage.

What a fitting production for Colorado, a state recently named by Rover.com as the #1 dog-loving state in the union.