10/18/17

Precarious hearts in Almost, Maine - a theater review



The beauty of the B8 Theater right here in Concord is not only its intimate space and commitment to community – it’s also about a wonderful collision of visual and performing arts. Each production includes a new collection of work from Bay Area artists, curated by Grace Teo Arts Management.
 

This month, much of the featured work comes from two Concord Art Association members - Joani Share and LorriMarie Jenkins. The art is always chosen as a companion to the play’s theme. This latest group of whimsical collage and creative mixed media work is titled Precarious heARTS - and once you see the play, you’ll appreciate the art even more - and it's all for sale!



Almost, Maine opens on a sparsely appointed stage – just a stark, winter white backdrop with a bench and a few fluffs of snow. This first scene with a young woman and her boyfriend is very quiet and slow, but after a few moments, I found myself acutely tuned in to them. I felt each character’s shyness and sense of longing. I felt the chill in the air and the anticipation in their voices. It sets the tone for the rest of the show. I think I like these types of plays the best – where less is more.

John Cariani premiered Almost, Maine in 2004 with critical acclaim and it ran off-broadway for a short time in 2006. It's a collection of short, comedic vignettes about lots of different people who all live in this strange little town. They mostly seem to know each other in some way, but their acquaintances are not terribly integral to their situations.

Each somewhat surreal story is about love and romance – both the humor and the heartbreak. The characters are a bit quirky and some of the circumstances require suspension of disbelief. But there are plenty of giggles and tender moments throughout, which makes the weirdness even more worthwhile. Each of the four actors who play multiple roles deserve huge kudos for making me forget who they were just a few minutes ago.

From neighbors in the laundry room to lovers in the living room, each duo seems to struggle a bit with showing each other (and us) their true colors. Every scene deals with some kind of emptiness or unwanted baggage that comes part and parcel in relationships - both old and new. Then the stories end with these serendipitous moments that make you believe love can truly take you anywhere you want to go. Still, their lives aren't perfect. Almost...but not quite.

The final scene picks up where the first scene left off and it quite literally brings everything full circle. Almost, Maine is something you can enjoy with a date, a spouse, your folks or your friends. Visit B8Theater.org for dates and tickets.

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