July 23, 2014

College Theatre Production “Almost” Explains Love

College Theatre Production “Almost” Explains Love
Karlin Krishnaswami
April 5, 2012

It may have felt like spring the first weekend of March on the College campus, but inside Davis Theatre the audience was transported to a cold, winter night in the remote, mythical town of Almost in northern Maine. Written by John Cariani and delicately directed by Principia Professor Tom Bruno, Almost, Maine depicts facets of love through a series of vignettes featuring a variety of couples.

A beautiful backdrop of the northern lights was a focal point for much of the performance, and the audience was drawn into the scenes through a thrust-style stage. The simple sets—a house façade or park bench, for instance—enabled viewers to focus on the actors themselves. Taken together, the set, props, costumes, and music effectively developed the theme of whimsy mixed with realism that permeated the show. For example, the student musical group Casual Friday played from behind a scrim during scene transitions, providing viewers only a partial view of the musicians just as the play offered only partial views of the human heart.

In addition, a delightful set of props personified love in its various phases—from a bag containing 19 pieces of a broken heart to a picture of an (intact) red valentine heart, from huge discarded “bags of love” to a tiny package containing love’s quintessential symbol, a diamond ring.

The performance itself was very believable. Lines were delivered with ease, sometimes in rapid fire to emphasize the humor and at other times with awkward pauses to reflect hope or regret. When needed, actors used physical comedy effectively as well. For example, Hunter Hoffman and Colin Angle brought down the house when they flopped and wobbled to the ground after an embarrassing moment.

Most students played a character close to their own age, but Jodi Pratt tackled two different parts, successfully portraying a vivacious young waitress and a wife disenchanted after years of marriage. If the women sometimes seemed a bit over the top with their emotions, this only served to bring out the needed awakening from the men. In other cases, the men’s actions wound up revealing the true, but hidden, feelings of their female counterparts.

Given the variety of love predicaments portrayed, audience members likely found one or two that hit home. But even if the scenes one related to most were sad, the arc of the play was hopeful. Back outside, as the sun dipped westward, theatergoers almost certainly returned home with an inner sense of warmth and a better feel for love, if not a crystal clear understanding of it.