The one that got away

‘Almost, Maine’ play review

By Adam Tatelman, Staff Writer

4/5

Douglas College’s latest play, Almost, Maine, is about romance and is comedic, but it’s a little outside the box compared to your average romantic comedy. All of the “almost” moments of love are in the script: proposals, exes clearing the air, friends becoming lovers, saying goodbye to lost loves, reclaiming your stuff during a breakup. Yet in this play, people’s hearts turn to stone and break, they give and receive love in big red Santa bags, and they literally can’t stand up after falling in love.

There isn’t a story in the traditional sense of beginning, middle, end. There is a through-line that marks the places where those things might be, but mostly the play comes off like an anthology piece. The characters all know one another—Almost is a small place, after all—but their scenes are separate stories that contribute to the overall philosophical statement while building the small-town-up-north identity of the play.

That identity is well conveyed by the set design. Consisting of a raised porch-like area and some snowy stumps, it’s fairly spartan. That porch serves as both the inside and outside of quaint little country houses and local bars; it’s a testament to the applicability of the design when it can be so many different things in so many scenes. There is a fun snow effect near the end of the play, and the projector lighting makes some very authentic stars and northern lights. Design-wise, everything’s there for a reason, so it all fits well. I could have done without the guitar sting after every scene, though.

Each actor gets a chance to show their range by playing multiple characters, often polar opposites: Logan Tower and Rachel Fournier open and close the play as Pete and Ginette, whose awkwardness drives them closer and further apart at the same time. Then Tower turns around to play a man’s man lumberjack with Sean Brown as Chad and Randy, while Fournier goes through a stressful breakup as Gayle. Jaimee Armstrong’s characters are quite earthy, and she makes one of the fastest costume changes I’ve yet witnessed in theatre. Jace Byers gives a comedic turn as milquetoast artist Dave, trying to woo the somewhat masculine and entirely clueless Rhonda played by Nina Dosdall.

This may just be my jaded self, but I think the reason for injecting these clownish comedic devices into otherwise melodramatic scenes is to make a point not about love but about how we deal with losing it. Rejection, confusion, breakups—in the end, these things are not so awful. People make a fuss about them in the moment, but often look back at them fondly. They’re just another track on the album, so we might as well learn to laugh before the disc runs out of music.