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TLC

a Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Scott Still

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Norcross Community and Cultural Arts Center
ID# 3388

SHOWING : May 08, 2009 - May 24, 2009

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

When her husband is thrown into a coma after an auto accident, Tyler is suddenly forced into a completely different way of life. Now, not only does she have to deal with the constant care of her husband, but also with her extended family's crazy antics, and her mother's opposition to her every move.

Comedy by local playwright Scott Still.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Tanya Carroll
Crew Gary L White
John Jason Caldwell
Maggie Nancy Caldwell
Tyler Sarah Craig
Doris Jackie Estafen
Granny Laura Lankford
Harlan Alan Lankford
Patrick David Lankford
Justin Ryan McLaughlin
Ray Bob Smith
Louise Janel Stover
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REVIEWS

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Entertainment on a Budget
by RRantamaki
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
4.0
With kids and a tight budget, it’s not often the wife and I get a date night; so we cherish those rare moments. Friday night was no exception. I got us tickets to the “Theatre” (spoken with one hand held high and a rich Shakespearian accent). Granted, it wasn’t an off-Broadway production down at the Fox Theatre (so my monocle and top hat would have to wait another day). Instead, we opted for something a little more homespun...at a local playhouse...by a local playwright. The production, called “TLC”, is touted as, “A family-friendly comedy that refreshes like a pitcher of sweet ice tea.” But, little did we know, our low budget, low expectations would belie the evening’s outcome.

This was our first trip to the College Street Playhouse, which is little more than a converted turn-of-the-century church. The tight quarters and pew seating provided an almost confessional type atmosphere. The lack of a curtain left the set constantly exposed, which gave us ample opportunity to study the layout before the actors took the stage. The garish paint, the garage-sale furniture, and hodgepodge props resembled a poor, college student’s apartment – who’s deep-into an experimental phase with acid. (Gotta ease up, it’s a community theater.)

The play opened awkwardly with a husband and wife (John and Tyler) scene apparently meant to establish their youthful exuberance over the Tyler’s newly acquired dream job. However, the intent of the scene was a hard sell due to the obvious age difference between the actors portraying the husband and wife (it’s a stretch to consider a silver-haired husband youthful). I felt like we were witnessing some bizarre pedophile fantasy. (Why yes, little girl, I painted this studio apartment myself. Care for some candy or whiskey?) Fortunately, before I could distract myself with thoughts of “lotion in a basket”, both the plot and my impression quickly took an unexpected twist.

John has an accident while running off to the liquor store, which leaves him in a coma. As Tyler reorganizes her priorities to care for her unconscious husband (I know ladies, she’s not alone), we’re treated to a whirlwind of dysfunctional relatives attempting to make a difficult situation bearable. The inherit humor within the varied opinions and intentions of her family members fashioned a storyline far more complex and stirring than the ramshackle set implied.

With the exception of an uncomfortably creepy dream sequence between John and Tyler near the end of the show (which seemed more like a frantic high school make-out session than a tender moment shared by a husband and wife), this low-budget production was surprisingly entertaining. Sure, it’s not as refined as a Broadway production, but the supporting cast and depth of story helps “TLC” overcome the bargain venue (and score as a successful date night).

Though the playbill may dish this production as a pitcher of sweet ice tea; it’s the generous dose of Southern comfort that livens the brew.
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Recommended
by playgoer
Sunday, May 10, 2009
3.5
"TLC" is an odd sort of play, almost two plays in one. The basic story is somber, involving a husband's coma and his wife's coping with her new role as caregiver. Added to that, though, is the wife's wacky family and some sharp comedic writing. The program's tagline sums it up: "Very Funny, Very Serious & Very Southern."

The show is anchored by Sarah Craig's strong and compelling performance as Tyler, the wife. She gets the most serious moments of the play, which she does very well, and is also involved at all levels of the comedy. She and Jason Caldwell start the play agreeably as a married, much-in-love couple, and she charts the varied emotions that follow with expertise. In the hands of a less capable actor, the role could easily fall apart as a series of unconnected moods. Sarah makes the arc of the character a believable, unified whole.

The rest of the characters are not as fully fleshed out, but they all have some dimension, even Jackie Estafen as Tyler's country club ogre of a mother, Doris. The mother and daughter, at loggerheads throughout the play, finally reach an understanding that blends the realistic, the comic, and the sentimental.

The strongest comedy comes from the rest of Tyler's family: Her Granny (Laura Lankford), who compares grief to intestinal gas; her aunts Louise (Janel Stover) and Maggie (Nancy Caldwell), who try overly hard to help in all situations, real or imagined; and Maggie's husband Harlan (Alan Lankford) and son Justin (Ryan McLaughlin), who bring some stereotypical male perspective to the proceedings. My favorite spot in the show was Alan Lankford's breaking into boozy tears at an intervention for which he was not the intended focus.

Bob Smith inhabits the sketchy, sleazy role of Ray, and David Lankford scores as the energetic Patrick, head of a home care program for coma victims. The idea of home care for a man in a coma provides the premise for the show. This isn't a wholly successful premise, but the rest of the show goes down smoothly if the premise is accepted off the bat.

Praise needs to go to Tanya Carroll, the director, both for selecting the play and for bringing it to life. The casting is winning throughout, and the show runs smoothly (although the script seems a tad longer and less concise than it might be with some judicious editing). The brightly colored set is functional, and "TLC" makes for quite an entertaining evening (or afternoon). [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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