Posted at 11:29 a.m., Feb. 9, 2015

almost, maine

New and old flames:

Kirk Maurer as Pete and Mac Marino as Ginette question each other's love throughout the play wondering how close they really are with each other.

Photo by Vycktoryja Selves

'Almost, Maine'
finds its heart

It’s always entertaining but sometimes off-putting to see individuals find true love in film, television and in everyday life, especially when there is no apparent chemistry between the people we are viewing. Very rarely are we able to see a love story that hits its notes well and often.

In the dress rehearsal Feb. 3 of the upcoming play “Almost, Maine” written by John Cariani, I came across what seemed to be an almost effortless act for some and still a time adjusting for others. Performed by Laramie County Community College Theatre Club, the play explored five of the nine original acts by Cariani that portrayed love and loss in a fictional and remote town known as Almost, Maine. The play was basically a romantic comedy, but there was an underlying dynamic that was a little more thoughtful and could really be done only by the actors themselves.

Play well constructed

The set design, costume design and lighting all helped create the setting as they were well done, but the actors were the high point of the play. Seeing them configure many different portrayals of romance and comedy helped the play unfold so inevitably, so entertainingly that to see it all at once felt as if we were seeing real people and not characters find love and witness actual loss. This was perfect for a college audience to connect to during the Valentine holiday season.

The Theatre Club’s version of the play itself flowed differently than Cariani originally wrote it. It begun with the Prologue, then Act I: Her Story, Act II: Sad and Glad, the interlude, then shifted to Act V: They Fell and moved back to Act III: This Hurts, Act IV: Getting It Back and finished with the Epilogue. But because the only connection between each was the theme of love and loss, each act would easily be interchanged and flowed so well that it seemed Cariani should have originally written it in this sequence.

The opening Prologue set the mood and stuck the landing so that we were happy to see the same characters in the Interlude and the Epilogue. But in the first act, Her Story, the pacing was off. Yet transitions picked up after the kiss almost as if the actors were portraying the characters as struggling to find chemistry until that first peck.

Then the rest of the play went through a series of experiences of when the audience felt a part. My favorite scene, Act II: Sad and Glad, was well-performed. The main actor, Nick Wood as Jimmy, understood how to transform into something sublime while another actor might have reduced the character to saccharinely aloof. Easily, he revealed the character, and when he found love, he gently said, “I’m glad you found me.”

Unexpected emotional reaction

In another of my favorite scenes, Act V: Getting it Back, the last story, director Adrianna True and her boyfriend, William Barkley, perform the most well-written and heartfelt story to end the play. They played Gayle and Lendall and portrayed Cariani’s characters so wholeheartedly we could feel the room pick up in a more spirited mood than it had begun.

I don’t normally enjoy stories of the romantic kind as they sometimes become overly sappy and boring, but the performances of “Almost, Maine” changed that for me. It appealed to me so easily that I found myself seduced by the cheerful moderation of each act. It embodied a view of human growth that, at its heart, reflected the same spiritual view of the pursuit of love. Overall—I’m glad I viewed it.

“Almost, Maine” will be performed on Feb. 12-14. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the box office at 307-432-1626 or by email at boxoffice@lccc.wy.edu and at the doors. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors and $10 for adults. All proceeds will go to the suicide prevention organization Grace for 2 Brothers

'Almost, Maine' Website

'Almost, Maine':
Theater student
to direct play of love and loss