Oh, love! What a fickle proposition you are! In Rockville Little Theatre’s (RLT) production of John Cariani’s Almost, Maine, we witness a variety of romantic love dilemmas, with comical and heartfelt flourishes. What connects the nine separate scenes is a star filled night, when “solar activity is at an 11 year peak… it makes for a great sky” as one character puts it. Do the Northern Lights bring out the simple complexities of love, or are these quirky folks from rural Maine always this way? Regardless, it makes for a sweet, sentimental show.
Director Kathryn Stirling has put together an ensemble cast of thirteen actors who play nineteen roles. Five of the actors play more than one scene. The program bios reveal that some of them are community theater regulars, but some are making debuts either on stage or with RLT. Collectively, these actors and the effective, representational set design (by David Levin) convey the feel of a fictitious small town – well, too small to be called a town, really – which brings to mind Lake Wobegon of the long running public radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. Both settings feature a certain amount of angst filled, awkward, love induced situations.
The actors in Almost, Maine excelled at expressing disappointment, hope, misunderstandings, regret, and joy. The scenes kept the audience’s interest because each one seemed to suggest a turning point in these relationships. There’s a liberal use of metaphors, understatements, and figurative language, to comical effect. Several of the characters act on undeniable impulses to kiss the objects of their sudden attraction, taking the audience by surprise, gauging from their laughs.
One of the scenes that stuck with me involves the disparity between the amount of love, size-wise, for a couple on the brink of breaking up, after 11 years. Gayle (Alexandra Guyker) is on the warpath, wanting to trade all the love she gave, represented by sacks and sacks she drags in, for the love Lendall (Tyler Hopkins) gave her. This is all very figurative, of course, but Lendall takes it to a new level of complication. It’s delightful how these two characters deal with their resulting feelings.
In Act 2 one of the vignettes involves two snowmobilers, Rhonda and Dave, played by Kristyn Lue and Nik Henle. They are adorable as they navigate around the obvious: he’s crazy about her and she’s rather clueless. This scene captures the joy of friendship turning into something more, and their playfulness is entertaining to see.
Don’t wait until Valentine’s Day season to watch this charming romantic comedy! Enjoy it this weekend, it is a perfect date night show, sure to please.
The cast, in alphabetical order: Tim Croissette, Bob Gudauskas, Alexandra Guyker, Nik Henle, Tyler Hopkins, Jen Katz, Ken Kemp, Brynn Krasney, Kate Lenane, Kristyn Lue, Liz Masi, Kelli Rademacher, and also the Assistant Director, Jennifer Dorsey briefly plays an offstage character.
Running time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, with an intermission.
Almost, Maine plays through Sunday, October 1, 2017 at Rockville Little Theatre performing at at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre in Rockville Civic Center Park – 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville, Maryland. For tickets, call the box office at (240) 314-8690, or purchase them online.