Review: “Almost, Maine” Artfully Explores The Dimensions of Love
What is love?* How is it felt? Can it be touched, or even counted? How do people fall in love? These are some of the many questions that the audience must consider when watching the Footlighters’ production of Almost, Maine, which premieres on February 1st and will be on stage until February 3rd at Hanover High School.
The play, which was written by John Cariani in 2004 and directed for its Footlighters iteration by Mary Gaetz, tells the stories of the people of the fictional organized territory of “Almost” in Maine through a series of vignettes centering on each individual’s experience with love. Each scene introduces a new set of characters and a different theme, whether it be about love found, love lost, or love regained (among many other facets).
This variety is a major strength. At the beginning of each scene, the audience is tasked with listening closely to learn about the lives of new characters. Key information is dropped subtly as scenes progress. The layout of the scenes on stage also puts more focus on the characters so the audience can get to know them better; it is rare for there to be more than two characters on stage at one time. Lighting is also used well, although some of the music used between scenes felt out of place at times.
The language definitely made the show entertaining. For starters, the conversations between the characters feel realistic and incorporate various idiosyncrasies that can be found in our everyday language, especially repetition and awkward pauses. The Footlighters do a good job of capturing this, although some of the pauses can feel too long or too short and disrupt the flow of some scenes. There is a nice balance of wit (especially if you listen closely), awkwardness (which is intended to make the lines realistic), and emotional expression. It should be noted as well that the play cleverly manipulates figures of speech for both comedic and sincere effect. The Footlighters also put body language to good use, setting the mood without even speaking.
Perhaps the most memorable aspect of the play is its portrayal of love in all its forms. Without spoiling too much, Almost, Maine takes the audience on an emotional journey. One can go from laughing in one scene to feeling that empty feeling that sadness brings in others. On paper, the interactions may seem a bit cheesy at times, but the Footlighters executed their performance in a way that made them seem authentic and heartfelt.
Overall, Almost, Maine is a worthy production that makes it audience reexamine their perception of love. It is definitely worth a viewing.
*Song reference not intended.