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Tokens of Affection

a Comedy
by Topher Payne

COMPANY : Centerstage North Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Art Place - Mountain View
ID# 4459

SHOWING : May 10, 2013 - May 18, 2013



A gem from the wonderfully witty mind of Atlanta’s own Topher Payne! The Garrett family is learning that although the big things in life get all the attention, it's the little things that matter most. This show is packed with clever dialogue, huge laughs and beautifully tender moments. Definitely one not to miss!

Playwright Topher Payne
Director George Canady
Sound Designer Dan Bauman
Props Master Lee Cox
Stage Manager Emillie Drombrowski
Light Designer Brad Rudy
Set Designer David Shelton
Costumer Designer Scot Townley
Claire Kylene Compaan
Jackie Phyllis Giller
Charlie Davin Allen Grindstaff
Bruce Alan Phelps
Frank Scott Pollak
Rita Emily Tyrybon
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Holding Up Well
by playgoer
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Georgia Ensemble Theatre presented "Tokens of Affection" a couple of years ago to great acclaim. Centerstage North's production is its equal in quality, if not in reception. I laughed long and heartily during the performance I saw, but the small audience was mostly restrained in its reactions. Maybe they were clappers rather than laughers, for their applause at the end of each scene seemed appreciative.

The set, designed by David Shelton, is a marvel. It convincingly portrays a New York apartment, with a workable window and with doors showing views into the bedroom, bathroom, and door across the hall. It's filled with lots of nifty features, including a recessed bookcase, kitchen cabinets, a refrigerator, and a lopsided, undersized range. The clutter on the floor seemed a bit contrived, but the bones of the set are great. A kitchen far right worked well as the home of Claire & Bruce Burnham, sister and brother-in-law of main character Charlie Garrett. Brad Rudy's light design ably lit appropriate sections of the stage for each scene with more sophistication than a simple lights up/lights down approach.

Costumes by Scot Townley are fine, with props by Lee Cox working beautifully. PETP (People for the Ethical Treatment of Plants) might have a few problems with the handling of a fern and flowers, but they add a lot to the show. Near the end, costume and props combine as Claire (Kylene Compaan) arrives after having had a garbage bag dumped on her head. There's not enough made of her probable scent after this debacle, but the visual humor is terrific.

The cast all do great work. Allen Phelps has the bluster and brawn of Bruce Burnham down pat, and Scott Pollak is totally believable as his father-in-law Frank. Phyllis Giller doesn't quite capture the overbearing spark of Jackie Garrett (wife to Frank), but she fits in beautifully with the rest of the cast. Kylene Compaan is a hoot as Claire, and Emily Tyrybon brings lots of life to neighbor Rita Randall, coming across with all the down-to-earth/actory charm the role requires. In the central role of Charlie Garrett, Davin Grindstaff is all one could wish for. His comic exasperation is delightful as interruption after interruption interferes with his work deadline (drawing fire-breathing sea turtles for a video game). He's the glue that holds the show together, and a highly amusing show it is. Bits of heartfelt emotion arrive in act two, and the show ends with sweetness.

Director George Canady has pulled together an impressive cast and design team to achieve a production that is the equal of many a professional production in Atlanta. Centerstage North continues to impress me with its splendid use of local talent.

Let me quote from my entry for Georgia Ensemble Theatre's production from 2011:
"Tokens of Affection" is a well-constructed play with broad appeal. I'd be surprised if it didn't have a life after Georgia Ensemble Theatre's production. Perhaps it's a throwback in its insistence on clever setup and payoff, sprinkled with quirkily comic dialogue, but good, solid entertainment is certainly lots of fun for all concerned. Let this entry act as a "token of affection" for this sweet, funny play. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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