Wrought with emotion, tension, and enough shirtless scenes to make the average showgoer equally attentive and uncomfortable, Honors Theater’s Almost, Maine was a whimsical exhibition of love and occasionally, the lack thereof. Its producers, Dorcas Afolayan (‘16), Bobbie Edmunds (‘17), Marlyn Scott (‘16), Michael Warker (‘17), and Payton Van Winkle (‘16), estimate that over 300 people were in attendance between the two performance nights, Jan. 13 and 14. The show itself was complex, hilarious, and arresting, and with nine directors, nineteen actors, and only two weeks of rehearsals, the producers and their teacher, Upper School Theater teacher Steve Perigard, certainly had their work cut out for them. The play, by John Cariani, is based in the fictional town of Almost, Maine and consists of nine short scenes that all take place on a cold Friday night. The characters fall in and out of love with one another, sporadically and yet naturally, and the show exhibits the joys, confusion, and pains that accompany such a strong human emotion.
Divided into individually directed scenes, the play moved seemingly disjointedly, with one scene turning into the next with little connection to the last, save for the overarching theme of love. However, the three scenes that ultimately tied the play together were directed by Austin Jupe (‘17), and showcased Abigail Winfree (‘17) as Ginette and Chris Johnson (‘17) as Pete, a young couple discovering their true feelings for one another. After having left Pete on the stage during the “Prologue,” Ginette’s return to his side in the final scene of the show brought everything together and offered the audience a satisfying conclusion. Though admittedly maudlin, this dizzy denouement effectively polished off what had been a smorgasbord of emotion, as just before Clay Bowden (‘16) had found out that the love of her life had gotten married in her absence, and Kyle Riopelle (‘17) and Christy Bacon (‘16) had discovered a new (and passionate) side to their relationship.
Almost, Maine’s greatest strength rested in its profound ability to incorporate striking symbolism into otherwise fairly straightforward scenes. From Annie Mahoney (‘19) toting around her broken heart in “Her Heart,” to Olivia Laskin’s (‘17) other shoe dropping from the sky after being told some harsh truths in “Where it Went,” the show used a variety of literal manifestations of common clichés to expose the raw emotion hiding behind them. One of the more intriguing pieces of symbolism was in “Getting it Back,” directed by Marlyn Scott (‘16). Sawyer Gaffney (‘16) and Claire Tate (‘16) played a couple experiencing what could have been a devastating break-up, but ultimately culminated in a marriage proposal. The amount of love the characters had for each other was represented by red bags, and Claire’s character Gayle was shocked to see that her love for her boyfriend, Lendall, could be contained in a single small pouch, a stark contrast to the piles of love he appeared to have for her. At the close of the scene, Lendall kissed his new fiancée Gayle, about which Sawyer later commented, “No complaints.”
Audience feedback from students and family members who flocked to the cozy, curtained-off stage Jan. 13 and 14 was overwhelmingly positive as well. Kate Surgner (‘17) remarked that “I felt inspired the whole time,” and noted that her favorite part was “when Dorcas threw the shoe off the balcony,” referring to the final moments of “Where it Went,” directed by Turner Wood (‘18). Mabry Kulp (‘17) said that she “thought it was very touching,” and fellow classmate Willie Hunter (‘17) said, “It was a good play; it was funny.” While speaking of his experience as an actor in Almost, Maine, Kevin Cross (‘17) commented, “I thought it was a great experience that opened my eyes to a new world of after school activities, one that I would definitely go into again.” Tate shared a similar opinion later, saying, “It introduced me to a whole new thing,” before going on to say, “It was very comfortable because everyone was very vulnerable, and that made it a supportive place.” Almost, Maine showcased not only the talent of its nineteen actors, but also of its five student producers, and culminated in two performances that can only be described as a resounding success.
All photos by Taylor Dabney.