Jul 18, 2008 — Almost, Maine is the current offering at St. Michael's Playhouse in Colchester, Vermont. The show runs through July 26. Resident theatre critic Connie Meng was at the opening night and has this review.
ALMOST, MAINE by John Cariani is a wonderfully whimsical play about potential, incomplete, aborted and finally fulfilled relationships. First produced in 2004, playwright Cariani is a working actor who began writing material for himself. ALMOST, MAINE is his first play and here's hoping he keeps on writing. All the twelve scenes take place outdoors on a cold night in midwinter and feature various inhabitants of an unincorporated area that is almost a town in Maine. Most of the relationships are also "almost" ones.
All eighteen characters, ten men and eight women, are played by four accomplished actors: Marty Keiser, John Patrick Hayden, Kate Weatherhead and Abby Lee. All four are the kind of actor who, when they walk onstage, the audience immediately likes, and the characters in this play are nothing if not likeable. It's hard to pick out favorites as all the scenes are very good, but Abby Lee is especially fine in "Her Heart" and Kate Weatherhead in "Where It Went".
John Patrick Hayden is a master of the dead-pan take in "This Hurts" and Marty Keiser is both touching and funny in "Sad and Glad" which is structured almost like the well-known repetition acting exercise. He and Mr. Hayden are both hilarious in "They Fell".
John Paul Devlin has designed an effective and simple set with snow banks, a dark blue cyc and various set pieces to indicate changes of location. The lighting by John Forbes is excellent, especially the star drop and northern lights.
Michael Lounsbery's sound and music choices are good, particularly those between Scenes 6 and 7. The costumes by Sarah Moore are excellent, especially the varied headgear. It's interesting to see how many layers are required to ride a snow mobile.
Sarah Carleton has done a terrific job of directing ALMOST, MAINE. The multitude of slightly off-beat characters are all believable, the pace and timing are great and the staging varied. I love her choice of the bolero-ish music in Scene 8. She's even given the two very nippy stagehands a well-deserved bow in the curtain call.
ALMOST, MAINE is a poignant, funny and smart play that provides a splendid evening of entertainment. Describing it as "whimsical" might put some people off, so let me say that the characters themselves are pretty down-to-earth. I giggled at the frequent use of the localism "jeezum crow!"
On a scale of one to five the St. Michael's Playhouse production of ALMOST, MAINE gets five covered bridges. For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.