Repost from Nicole L.V. Mullis, For the Enquirer Published 12:55 p.m. ET Feb. 11, 2018
Springfield - Smack in the middle of February is Valentine’s Day, which calls attention to the state of everyone’s heart – broken, whole, bitter, smitten, unrequited, or undecided.
Depending on where you fall, this holiday is either a cruel joke or a cause for celebration. Whatever the state of your heart, head over to What A Do Theatre for their production of “Almost, Maine,” a romantic comedy for everyone.
“Almost, Maine” by John Cariani is a series of short, seemingly unrelated scenes that take place in the almost-town of Almost, Maine. Why an almost-town? The citizens never got organized enough to be declared an official town, which seems to have rubbed off on their romantic relationships. Scene by scene, we see couples who are almost ready to commit, almost ready to call it quits, almost ready to confess their love, almost ready to swear off love, almost ready to try again, almost ready to just be friends.
The writing is clever, weaving wordplay and literal metaphors – a broken heart in a bag, giant garbage bags of returned love – into the pain and joy familiar to anyone who has ever fallen in love. Best of all, it’s funny, and director Randy Wolfe’s cast and crew deliver on the humor.
All but one of the nine-member cast plays multiple roles, which they do so seamlessly. Greg Reitsma is the undisputed king of this chameleon-like ability, appearing by turns as a clueless boyfriend, a long-suffering ex-boyfriend, the love interest of his best friend, and the one in love with his best friend. And it works, every time. Grace Morengo stands out as the broken-hearted Glory, capitalizing on Cariani’s one-two punch of inanity and vulnerability. Bill Sutherland and then Diane Long collaborate with Reitsma on two of the play’s more hilarious scenes, while James King II and Teri Noaeill combine for one of the play’s more powerful scenes.
No matter how the ensemble is configured, every duo has chemistry with each other, making us believe they are not only different people but different people with different hearts.
There are minimal props and set pieces, which works with this character-driven play. The costuming is subtle, just the drab winter gear one expects in Maine (or Michigan) with the occasional splash of red that catches the eye like a new love interest. John Purchase’s sound design and Samantha Snow’s light design drape the sparse set with decadent atmosphere, keeping the audience in the mood and in on the joke.
Whether Cupid has been kind or cruel to you this February, treat yourself to What A Do’s production of “Almost, Maine.” It’s almost perfect.