"Almost, Maine" Immerses Audience with Emotional Roller Coaster

Posted by Zoe Dartley

John Cariani's Almost, Maine, as directed by Larry Opitz, was entertaining, charming and generally heart-warming. The show captured the exhilaration, sorrow, joy and uncertainty of love, and it was clear that the audience was actively immersed in the play's emotional roller coaster.

Almost, Maineflowed seamlessly scene-to-scene. The play's transitions added to its romance and charm with soft lighting and music selected by James Kuzio '15 and Opitz. The play's staging was just as thoughtful - since there were never more than three people on stage at a time, actors were able to fully utilize the intimate black-box stage. Blocking could have been difficult, given the minimal amount of space provided in the theatre.

Interestingly enough, Almost, Maine is written to be performed with only four different characters. In Opitz's version, twelve different actors rotate between parts. Every actor had their own unique energy, and it was interesting to see a specific actor change in adaptation to their different characters.

Notable performances included Olivia Nielsen '13 and Alex Orthwein '13 as Marvalyn and Steve in "This Hurts." Orthwein portrayed a man with a self-proclaimed mental "deficiency" that causes him to be immune to pain. Nielsen plays Steve's neighbor who (by smacking him over the head with an ironing board) helps him feel.

Will Hoeschler '14 and Will Clark '16 also impressed the audience with their performance in the vignette "They Fell." Hoeschler and Clark played two friends who realize they have literally and metaphorically fallen for each other.

The only noticeable flaws in the play's near perfect run had to do with Cariani's writing, which could at times be kitschy and predictable. However, Almost, Maine is so endearing that this is barely noticeable, especially due to Opitz's direction and the talent of his cast.

Whether erupting in laughter or cooing in sympathy or sorrow, the audience had all the right reactions. Almost, Maine captured its audience, not only by tearing at their heartstrings, but also through empathetically depicting realistic romance.  

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