Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Almost, Maine"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Teri Wilkinson


"Almost, Maine"

Reviewed by Will Stackman

    Speakeasy’s current offering, the Boston premiere of John Cariani's “Almost Maine”, will probably become a favorite with small theatre’s in New England. This series of short plays and sketches has been characterized as employing “magic realism”--and at least one visual pun--to support its general theme of the unpredictability of love. While magic realism is a useful literary term, what happens in the two act look into the lives of ordinary people in northernmost Maine is better described as theatrically as American Absurd. While this form shares its break with reality and existentialist viewpoint with the European relative, it is considerably more hopeful. As such, “Almost Maine” is unlikely to find much acceptance in New York, but across the Northern tier of the USA and in Canada where winter is a fact of life and not just a nuisance.
     This production, directed by Paul Daigneault, features an ensemble of four talented actors, three familiar faces and one relative newcomer. Actor/director Barlow Adamson will next be seen at the Lyric in “Arms and the Man”. Kevin Kalinsky is a physician in training with credits for understudying at the Huntington. IRNE winner Maureen Keiller was seen as a central character in “The Women” last fall. Elaine Theodore was seen in “Company” for Speakeasy” and in “Living Out” for the Lyric and has done a great deal of improv. Each plays a variety of small town types, subtley distinct and sharing a solidarity with their unincorporated farming community. A larger cast would certainly be possible but might lessen the sense of a small community. It might be helpful if the play was being done by less experienced actors.
    Audra Avery’s unit set centers around a stylized frozen pond backed by movable snow-covered pines, dominated a remarkable star-filled sky. which changes along with Karen Perlow's expert light plot to create scenes where the dark is as important as the light. Seth Bodie's layered costumes help create distinctive characters united against the cold, seeking inner warmth. Dewey Dellay's soundscape emphasizes the expanse of the setting completing the sense of place that unites the hopeful yet Absurd minidramas behind the comic moments of “Almost Maine.”

“Almost Maine”, Feb. 16 - Mar. 10
Speakeasy Stage Co.
Roberts Studio, BCA, 527 Tremont

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