Solid acting overcomes tepid script
Almost, Maine was almost an entirely enjoyable collegiate production. The direction was there—the actors did a great job delivering their lines, the audience laughed, “oohed” and “ahhed” at the appropriate moments, and the individual skits were both heartfelt and hilarious.
Yet, when put together, the plot became dull and repetitive. Individually, the skits are uproariously clever, but by the second skit after intermission, the process became cyclical and slightly less compelling.
Presented by Powder and Wig, Almost, Maine is a play created by John Carian and directed by Laura Miller ’11. Set in a fictional town that somehow never managed to officially become a town, the play portrays a hodgepodge of events occurring one cold February night, giving the audience a snapshot view of life in Almost.
On this night in particular, magic seems to occur as various couples face extenuating circumstances together. The uniting theme, of course, is love and relationships. A collection of common clichés involving dysfunctional romance, the audiences faced seemingly every derivation of a relationship gone wrong. There is painfully awkward puppy love, love at first sight, lost love, romance and, of course, a bromance.
The most compelling aspect of this play was the genuine hilarity incited by outlandish situations. Carian created a script rich with circumstantial irony and coincidence, and Miller did a great job directing the appropriate delivery. One cannot reasonably take either the events or the characters seriously, as the skits are, admittedly, ridiculous. Taking literalism, irony, and sarcasm to new levels, Almost, Maine managed to punctuate nearly every line with laughter from the audience.
When considering the naivete of the characters and the candidness in which they interact, it is impossible not to find the skits funny. The occurrences are unexpected and most certainly unrealistic; the juxtaposition of the characters’ sincerity against the ridiculousness of their actions is a foolproof formula for mirth.
Unfortunately, it became harder to empathize with the characters and tolerate their peculiarity as the skits drew on. One man, in an expressive display of his angst over losing his lover, tattoos “Villian” on his arm instead of “Villain.” Another skit laboriously presents two ex-lovers giving one another their love back; of course, the skit concludes with the two happily engaged.
While, individually, these scenes were refreshingly innocent and blissful, in the context of the preceding two skits and the following four skits, the play overall became predictably mundane.
Certainly, the outlandishness of these residents is initially endearing and each bewildering resolution elicits both contented relief and intrigue from the audience. There are, however, only so many “happy endings” and theatrical lip locks an audience can pragmatically endure.
Plot foibles aside, the acting and direction were truly impressive, making the dragging storyline endurable.
Dan Echt ’11, Ali Reader ’12 and Mike Trottier ’12 had standout performances, doing an exceptional job depicting a diverse range of characters. Each managed to effectively adapt distinct personalities, their convincing performance generating enough amusement to drive forward the deficiencies of the plot.
Miller made as entertaining a production as possible given the limitations in storyline. The spartan use of props had little to no impact on the overall skit, an impressive attribute highlighting the skilled acting and directing. The lack of an elaborate set simply serves to further accentuate the idiosyncrasies of the bizarre inhabitants of Almost, a clever supplemental feature.
Overall, Almost, Maine is an enjoyable performance; it is earnestly hilarious and pleasingly carefree. Surely, the reiteration of romantic clichés is somewhat overdone, but the underlying fact remains that Colby’s Powder and Wig provided an extraordinary presentation of an average script.