Sabine is a woman at an exciting point in her current relationship when she bumps into her ex at a bar. The meeting provokes a juggling act between past feelings and guilt, and the ways people deal with moving on.
Gayle has been in an 11-year relationship that’s apparently going nowhere. She finally brings it all to her boyfriend’s door, literally.
After many years away from her high-school sweetheart, Hope is looking to find her place in the world – with him.
These are some of the various characters in John Carian’s oft-performed play “Almost, Maine,” now on stage at Rockville Little Theatre. The play comprises nine two-character short plays that explore love and loss in the titular, mythical town.
Alexandra Guyker portrays Sabine, Gayle and Hope.
“All three characters have experiences I myself have dealt with, so it is easy to connect to each one when I look back on those times in my life,” Guyker said. “Because they’re different people, it’s important I take some time before each scene and really think about where I was before. But I rely on the author’s words to show the differences in their thought processes, pace, and emotions.”
While Guyker never previously performed in “Almost, Maine,” she relied on recommendations of friends who did.
“I really liked that there was so much honesty and simplicity in these scenes,” Guyker said. “Each scene shows a couple that everyone recognizes in their own lives, all taking place on a typical Friday night in a typical town.”
Guyker, who holds an MFA from the University of Florida, has performed with such area theaters as Little Theatre of Alexandria and Maryland Ensemble Theatre. Her favorite kind of show is musicals. She was Diana in “Next to Normal” and Little Red in “Into the Woods.”
But she appreciates the non-musical “Almost, Maine,” because “everything is real, with just a hint of magic sprinkled in.”
It’s also her first show since moving to the Rockville area.
Kathryn Stirling, the play’s director, had moved to the area from abroad.
After spending her 20s and 30s as a professional actor in Great Britain, Stirling came to the realization that “it wasn’t going to happen” – meaning theatrical success. She was “too old to be to be an ingénue and not yet ready for character roles,” Stirling explained.
She got married, had a family, and ended up in the United States. After her children were somewhat grown, Stirling decided it was time again to have “a life” in the theater. She contacted many area theaters, and Rockville Little Theatre was the first to respond.
Stirling started out working in sound design, and later served as assistant-director to RLT’s production of “Our Town.” Asked by another director to collaborate, Stirling decided to go off on her own.
“This is my first time directing,” Stirling said.
A playwright friend who had worked with Cariani suggested that Stirling read the play and “take it more seriously.”
“People tend to do it with a sentimental twist,” Stirling said. “But in his notes, the playwright quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald, who said that a sentimental person thinks things are going to last, and the romantic knows they are not.”
Stirling sees “Almost, Maine” as romantic.
Another directorial challenge is that each of the vignettes has only 10 minutes to tell its story.
The play straddles the fence between “entertainment and art.”
“I’ve always found the line between them fascinating,” said Stirling. “Often, we see something people call ‘entertaining,’ whereas other things are clearly art, meaningful, and enlightening.”
Three performances of “Almost, Maine” remain: Friday and Saturday, Sept. 29 and 30, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 1, at 2 p.m. The theater group performs at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater, Rockville City Center, 603 Edmonston Drive in Rockville. For tickets, call 240-314-8690. For more information, call 240-242-9725 or visit their website at www.rlt-online.org.