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Cappies Review: "Almost, Maine"

As the clock strikes 9 p.m. in a quaint, quiet town in northern Maine, nine couples simultaneously explore the puzzling issues of romance. They weave together love and loss in Falls Church High School’s intriguing production of "Almost, Maine."

Written by actor John Cariani, the play premiered at the Portland Stage Company in Maine and is one of the most widely-produced plays in the world. Set in the fictitious small town of Almost, Maine, the story consists of a series of vignettes depicting various couples and their struggles with falling in and out of love. Balancing lighthearted comedy with somber scenes, Cariani’s play presents a true examination of one of life’s most confusing and complicated aspects: love.

Each actor’s precise attention to detail contributed to the crispness of the show. The cast artfully conveyed a wide range of emotions and maintained constant dedication to his or her character, even exiting the stage with energy and purpose.

Despite the ensemble nature of the show, several actors stood out, including Boris Mewborn, who played both Randy and Dave. As Randy, Mewborn’s adept comical timing shined alongside scene partner Gunnar Frodigh (Chad) in a hilarious scene about two friends literally falling in love. As Dave, Mewborn connected believably when he tried to win the affection of his tomboyish friend, Rhonda (Emily McGowen). Frodigh appeared once more, playing a forgetful husband, Phil, out on a date with his wife, Marci (Melanie Reuter). Both Frodigh and Reuter accurately conveyed the tension of their disconnected relationship.

With humor and wit, Jimmy Miller portrayed Steve, a boy who cannot feel physical pain. While Miller delivered several funny moments, including whacking himself in the head with a notebook, he also captured the naïve, serious essence of Steve, someone who believes love is dangerous and hurtful. Opposite Miller was Ava Hockenberry as Marvalyn, a girl who lives in Steve’s building. The two worked well together in a well-staged scene that results in a miraculous surprise.

The show was not without it flaws but despite some uneven pacing and confusing character choices, the ensemble gained momentum by the second act.

Overall, the technical aspects of the show were very well executed. Lighting especially conveyed the presence of the Northern Lights and the calm of the evening. Sound cues were mostly on-target, while the costumes, including a variety of winter jackets, helped to portray a cold setting and added to the cohesiveness of the cast. The stage crew, always swift and quiet, were a joy to watch as they too were dressed in costumes. Moving set pieces fully in character, they created several whimsical moments.

With a talented cast and crew, "Almost, Maine" captured the intricate webs of romantic relationships from their pitfalls to their successes. It may have been a cold winter in Maine, but it wasn't frigid enough to freeze this heartwarming, endearing production.