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Almost, Maine
directed by David Rose
Colony Theatre, Burbank
through March 9

Do you remember that magical feeling that came over you while you watched John Patrick Shanley’s Moonstruck? You’ll experience practically the same sensations in John Cariani’s Almost, Maine, now at the Colony.
Full of surprises, like good theatre should be, Almost, Maine is funny and touching but a bit unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

The Northern Lights, a scientific occurrence up North happens about once a year, in which electrons are knocked during storms out of atmospheric atoms and sent hurling to earth, lighting up the sky like fireworks replete with shooting stars. What is their effect on earthlings? As in Moonstruck, during a full moon, folks get overexcited and fall surprisingly in and out of love.

There are 9 different playlets and 4 actors take on all of the characters with astounding clarity. Many of Almost, Maine’s laugh lines must be taken quite literally. Take for example, “Goodbye, Wes; hello, East”. It’s a play on words that sets up a laugh and sums up a whole scenario, wherein a girl leaves the memory of her just deceased husband behind and commits to a relationship with a man she’s just met. Then there are 2 redneck straight male friends in “They Fell” who fret about how uncomfortable they have been with their respective female mates. Suddenly they realize that the relationship between them makes the most sense, makes them happy and that – no, it couldn’t be! – they are attracted to each other. The slapstick in this scenario is nonstop hilarity. Even though Randy and Chad verbally refuse to accept their fate, physically they cannot resist it. You have to see this one to totally appreciate its wit and off-the-wall humor.

Another favorite scene entitled “Getting It Back” shows how much we measure love in terms of what each partner gives the other. Since we live in an advanced technological world where we are programmed to accept only what we see and hear, sadly our ability to dig deep and to feel real emotion has become secondary to more superficial reactions, or for some, even more tragically, feelings no longer exist or never have. The play on the surface is literal fun, but underneath a lesson in how to readjust the way we think, feel and behave.
The ensemble: Caroline Kinsolving, Louis Lotorto, Donald Sage Mackay and Dee Ann Newkirk are sensational under director David Rose’s expertise. Set design by David Potts and lighting design by Jeremy Pivnick are pure magic.

 At some moments, Almost, Maine infused me with the simple enjoyment of, say, an episode of Newhart , while at others, it blew my socks off. Go see for yourselves!

5 out of 5 stars


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