Images courtesy of Shari Corell
Almost, Maine is about love, about falling in and out of love, about love in all of its forms. Through a harmonious combination of emotional performances, creative set design, and a universal subject matter, the SPHS Drama department has reached a new level of quality. The fall production of Almost, Maine preserves and presents this central theme with an excellence which exceeds expectation and will remain with the viewers long after.
Almost, Maine is set in Almost, Maine, an unorganized township on the northernmost edge of New England. The play has no overarching story, instead it is a series of eleven vignettes covering moments in the lives and loves of this little township’s small population. From the tale of a new arrival come to bid her dead husband’s soul farewell, to a man discovering a strange coincidence involving a misspelled tattoo, to a woman returning home only to find the man she loved is long gone. These intimate vignettes create an emotionally striking image of love and life in a distant snow-covered town.
The production’s faults, if there are any, lie in the script. As is inevitable with any anthology, some of the stories are simply not as good as others. Of the lower bracket of vignettes, a few consistent problems arise: characters and length. Occasionally, characters come off as rather one dimensional, a problem which is worsened by the somewhat clunky dialogue, phrases too long for most casual conversation or diction which is simply alienating sometimes lessens the tension of a scene. A further complaint arises in terms of length: many of the vignettes are either too long or too short. Those that are too long feel like they drag out and those that are too short leave the audience demanding further resolution.
In spite of these problems Almost, Maine is a triumph. Not just of story, but also of performance. The common expectation of quality for most High School plays and musicals is often much lower than for more professional acts. However, the entire cast blows these low expectations out of the water and into the stratosphere. With little exception, every actor breaths life into their characters in only a short few minutes. From the utterly still and hard hitting regret of the “Story of Hope” to the lighthearted comedy of “They Fell” the student-actors of the South Pasadena High School Drama Department light up the theater with indelible and deep performances.
Almost, Maine continues this weekend and is certainly a valuable use if your time, if not for the high quality of acting and flawed but well-composed script, then go for the feelings it will inspire, for the reminder it makes that love is human, that we will all fall in and out of it, discover new facets of it, and maybe even settle into forever.
Friday, December 8, 7 PM
Saturday, December 9, 7 PM
Tickets are $15 at the door