“Almost Maine” Absolutely Delights
“Almost Maine” is a delightful show about the lives and loves of folks living in a town that never quite became a township, hence, Almost, ME. The play, written by John Cariani, tells the story of lovers, those who seek, those who find and those who lose at the game of love. “Almost Maine” deals with romantic love, but also the love between good friends. The play consists of eight separate scenes featuring different characters. There is also a three-part series of vignettes, prologue, interlogue and epilogue that establishes the atmosphere. Four actors appear in 18 roles, 8 female and 10 male. Each couple, friends or lovers, is completely unique; only sharing the toughness of unique characters. The ensemble of four creates distinct different and genuinely loveable people.
Director Matthew Alvin Brown intelligently brings out the best for this light-hearted but definitely not light-weight show. Timothy Stewart and Jared Blount, two Pollard Theatre Company members perform admirably in all of the male parts and they are joined by two of Oklahoma City’s finest actresses for the female parts. Renee Krapff and Kris Schinske Wolfe portray the characters with charm, depth and vision. This foursome has excellent chemistry and humor. Director Matthew Alvin Brown intelligently brings out the best for this light-hearted but definitely not light-weight show.
While the scenes are brief moments taken out of time, Brown has facilitated the development of in depth and multi-faceted individuals. There are nuances of behavior in expression and language that create a bond between the lovers, and extends that bond to the audience as we gaze through the flurries of cold wind that is the fourth wall.
The majority of vignettes deal with couples, however there is a wonderful ‘ “My Fair Lady” Why can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?’ moment in the scene titled ‘They Fell’ that creates wonderful comedy. Blount and Stewart are hilarious. Then, in ‘Seeing the Thing’ the interplay betweenWolfe and Stewart is incredibly expressive, phenomenal and hilarious. Another unexpectedly poignant moment is discovered in ‘Story of Hope’ as Krapff and Blount recognize each other after many years. There are many touching as well as humorous moments in “Almost Maine” and a favorite for everyone.
It is surprising to realize that Maine is almost as cold as Oklahoma and there are many familiar aspects in “Almost Maine” to Oklahomans. The camaraderie that Oklahoma is renowned for is quite apparent among the Mainers depicted in Cariani’s script. Many Oklahomans are proud of their ‘Okie’ or ‘Sooner’ roots, and many residents of Maine appreciate being termed ‘Mainiacs’ as well. The land of Maine is just as majestic as an Oklahoma sky.
The show is paced perfectly and the ending comes too quickly for an audience wanting more. Pauses for scene changes should tighten up and that will ensure the show will whiz past. Technically the show is handled well, with lovely scenery evocative of the icy flurries of deep winter, the snow reflecting with blue arctic lights. While the space is not intimate, coziness as achieved with a look and a sigh that melts hearts and suddenly becomes a chuckle.
“Almost Maine” runs February 15 to March 2, 2019. The Pollard is located at 120 West Harrison, Guthrie, Oklahoma. Call 405-282-2800 or visit www.thepollard.org for tickets and information. Curtain is 8:00 pm with two Sunday matinee’s (February 17 and 24, 2019) at 2:00 pm for a lovely winter afternoon.