"Almost, Maine" is Almost Perfect
A review of Vienna Theatre Company's winter production
By definition, “almost” means “slightly short of, not quite, or nearly,” a word with either positive or negative connotations.
In the play “Almost, Maine,” currently being performed by the Vienna Theatre Company, playwright John Cariani uses the word as a metaphor in the telling of a series of nine vignettes surrounding love that almost define each relationship.
Like the movie “Love Actually,” the play is a series of clever, tightly constructed tales that explore how love is born and why it dies.
The action unfolds on a cold Friday night in the non-existent Maine town of “Almost,” so named because its residents never quite got around to incorporating the area, and subsequently putting themselves on the map.
Whether it be a jilted lover encountering his old flame, a woman searching for an old love or two friends hiding their deepest feelings for one another, each story combines sadness with sympathy and finds comedy in confusion.
Under the direction of Suzanne Maloney, the tale seemingly shifts from story to story, examining comical, powerful and emotional stories of searching for love. While some of the stories seem a little cliché, the chemistry of the pairings was almost perfect.
The fine ensemble tackles multiple roles and because the actors bring out the best in each character, the audience is left wanting more from several of the stories.
Ally Galen and Daniel Marin as Glory and East shined together as a couple who meet when Glory plops down in the yard of a stranger to get a good look at the Northern Lights. There was a realness to the relationship that kept the characters from being fake and the pair played off each other wonderfully.
An unexpected kiss in the story of Steve and Marvalynn was perhaps the most touching in the tales, and Tom Epps and Erin Gallalee made what could have been an unbelievable love story into something worth rooting for.
Epps was back later with Chuck Dluhy as Randy and Chad in a story about two men who discover that they both may want something more out of their friendship. Again, the actors bring life to a scene that could have easily lost its way.
Jina Leigh Ames, Allan L’Etoil, Jessie Roberts, Jon Roberts and Allison Shelby round out the ensemble, and each was able to create different personalities for the two characters they portrayed.
Jennifer Lyman’s lighting conveys a northern Maine winter with a trace of warmth and Epps did a nice job of doubling as set designer, giving the stage a look that accented enough to bring the coldness of the town to life. There are also some fun special effects designed by Ben Allen.
With Valentine’s Day drawing near, the Vienna Theatre Company’s production is a great way to get into the romantic mood. The play is whimsical, filled with surprise kisses, emotional meltdowns and even a few fun whacks to the head.
Don't "almost" decide to see this. Get your tickets now. You'll be glad you did.
Remaining shows for the production of "Almost, Maine" are Jan. 28 and 29 and Feb. 4 and 5 at 8 p.m., with matinee performances Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 at 2 p.m.Tickets are $11 for seniors and students, $13 for general admission. For more ticket information, click here.