Last week, senior students from Roosevelt’s 6/7 drama class opened and closed Almost Maine, the second winter production of the 2016 season. The charming play showcased a smattering of moments in the romantic lives of its characters, the tone of which ranged from hopeful (discovering love for a life-long friend) to deeply depressing (on an anniversary, a marriage falls apart). A tiny town in rural Maine houses their stories, and it’s the tight-knit culture of Almost that ties the play’s segments together into a coherent narrative. Staged in the smaller blackbox theater, Roosevelt’s Almost Maine balanced the serious and the playful, simultaneously evoking the script’s sentimentality and its attitude of irreverence towards typical romance.
It was during the comedic moments where the production found its stride. The actors excelled at bringing out the laughs behind their lines, yet the real joy was seen during some fantastic instances of comedic chemistry between their characters. Seniors Leigh Kiker and Joey Capestany played up the awkwardness of running into an ex, resulting in some excellent back-and-forth that had audience members groaning in sympathy for them both. Other standout dynamics were produced by classic moments of physical comedy – audiences loved watching people fall repeatedly, especially when the goofiness was enhanced by a pun that senior Henri Fitzmaurice’s character was “falling” in love.
However, some jokes were found in director’s subtler choices, such as when seniors Willem Schellings and Emma Reith tried ripping each others clothes off in the last scene of the play, only to encounter endless layers of undershirts and long underwear. While they eventually succeeded, the choice to prolong the moment helped undercut the scene’s risque nature along with adding a few laughs.
Almost Maine was not all comedy and even the play’s more somber scenes were able to shine in a different light. In one intense moment, Capestany screams in his wife’s face, played by senior Caelie Desmond, about the problems in their marriage, an outburst that had been steadily building throughout the scene. Against the humor of Almost Maine, jarring moments like this are doubly effective.
By playing up the laughs and treating dramatic moments with the gravity they deserved, the cast of Almost Maine made the magical realism the townspeople live with feel very real. The production left audiences with a feeling of dreamy contentment, like they’d just lived a few lives.
Featured Photo: From left to right, Seniors Silas Collins, Elliot Moore, and Leigh Kiker all stand on stage for the showing of Almost Maine. Photo by Ruby Hale