Love is in the air in Almost, Maine. Or is it? Filled with witty metaphors and peculiar situations, Cariani’s very creative take on life and love in the unorganized town so far north that the residents call it Almost, Maine. The romantic comedy is comprised of eight scenes or vignettes which tell a brief story of two characters with a Prologue, Interlogue, and Epilogue that teasingly winds and wraps around the scenes cleverly creating a ninth vignette. The remaining show times are April 12-14 at 7pm.
Starting with the Prologue, the audience gets a hint that love is in the air even if the people in love are hesitant to express their love, are searching for love, or desperate to tell their mate what is lacking in their love.
In Her Heart, we see Easton (Josh Katzman) come to the aid of Glory (Marisa Materazzi) who has come to Almost, Maine to make amends with her recently deceased spouse. While East is explaining the history of why the town is only almost a town, Glory shares her reason for traveling to the town to see the Northern Lights. As her heartbreaking story unfolds it is clear that East is searching for love and thinks that he may be in love with Glory. The audience laughed heartily when East states that he is a repair man. He fixes things. That what he does. He would love to fix her heart if only she would let him.
Sad and Glad shows us a peek of what happens when love is unrequited. Jimmy (Cameron Skaff) runs into an old girlfriend Sandrine (Emily Poehlman) at the local bar. While Jimmy attempts to rekindle their relationship, Sandrine reluctantly shares that she is there with her bachelorette party. Intertwined is the appearance of their waitress (Samantha Eigenmann) who relentlessly reminds them that the night’s special is free drinks if the patron is sad. So after pondering his situation, Jimmy realizes that is it much better to be glad than sad even if it means that he has to pay for his drinks.
This Hurts is an incredibly hilarious interaction between Steve (Cameron Skaff) and Marveline (Madeline Gamel). It appears that Steve has created a protective coating around himself with a disorder where he cannot feel pain. While Marveline is doing her laundry she listens to Steve’s peculiar situation while sharing her own relationship woes. Cameron’s performance as Steve is impeccable as he shares his theory of creating lists of things that should hurt while Marveline unintentionally hurts him with her ironing board (repeatedly) until it sinks in that love does hurt sometimes but it can also feel good.
I absolutely adored Getting It Back where, once again, Josh Katzman shines on stage as Lendall. When his girlfriend Gayle (Elizabeth Hague) boisterously arrives at his home to return all of the love that he has given her over the years, I was almost rolling in the aisle with laughter. Especially after seeing the multiple bags that Marveline deposits in contrast to the tiny gift bag that Lendall gives to her. The duo had perfect chemistry as they unconventionally worked through the deficiencies in their love story.
Shelley (Akemi Tenorio) and Deena (Jenny Tammera) open Act II wide up with their hysterical stories of bad dates. When Shelley shares that her last date said that he couldn’t date her because she smells, she thinks that she had won the competition of bad dates until Deena shares that she broke her last dates face while dancing. These two actresses set the bar high for the rest of their talented cast mates with this vignette. (Luckily for the audience, they all step up to the plate and hit home runs.) Similar to Sad and Glad, these two characters take bad situations and learn from them to find love.
One of the most difficult vignettes to portray was in Where It Went. Phil (Bobby Bickle) and Marcy (Samantha Eigenmann) are on a date where Marcy thought that she could rekindle their romantic love by going ice skating. Phil is clueless that there is something wrong but Marcy passively aggressively tells him that he needs to pay attention when what she means is that she is unhappy and that he should be aware of this and do something about it. The fact that I clearly understood what was really happening is a salute to Bickle’s and Eigenmann’s passionate and endearing performances.
The Story of Hope was also a heart wrenching love situation where Hope (Callie Moore) returns to Almost, Maine with the hope that Randy’s (Bryson Adair) marriage proposal was still on the table. Hope pours her heart out to a gentleman who answered the door at the address that Hope last knew that Randy lived. She explains that she wasn’t ready to commit when Randy asked her to marry him but after much thought and time that she is now ready to give him an answer. Unfortunately, not only has Randy changed over time to the point that Hope did not recognize him but Randy had moved on.
The last vignette is Seeing the Thing. What a fantastic way to round out the incredible compilation of tales from the deep north! Dave (Stephen Amburgey) and Rhonda (Jill Amburgey) have been friends for a very long time. He explains to her that they go out every Friday night and that she never invites him in. Then, Dave gives Rhonda a gift and asks her to stare at it until she sees the thing. Not only is this vignette rich in laughter but also very thought provoking because the audience cannot see what they see but Rhonda offers several hilarious suggestions. The funniest part is when Dave tells Rhonda that if she stares at it long enough that she’ll see but ‘sometimes you gotta trick it’. The audience was in an uproar with laughter. The outstanding performances from the Amburgeys was the perfect segue to the Epilogue which also offered a happy ending.
Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Congratulations to Tricia & Whitt Williams, Cynthia Baker, the cast, and crew of Almost, Maine. Although the cast has varying levels of experience, they all have a superior amount of passion and skill. I thoroughly enjoyed their performances and look forward to seeing them in future plays.
I am especially excited that Tricia and Whitt have opened the Island Theater. Their website states “The Island Theater Welcomes You” and my experience was that they mean it with all of their hearts. Their mission is to engage audiences with performances that make them think thoughtfully, laugh longer, and feel more. I believe that they are fulfilling that mission. Please join them for future shows. School of Rock, The Addams Family, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Disney’s Peter Pan Jr., The Complete William Shakespeare Abridged, The Newsies The Musical, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (plus more!) are all on the calendar this year. Visit www.theislandtheater.com for more info.