GREENBELT – Just in time for Valentine’s Day, “Almost, Maine,” John Cariani’s quirky play on the many facets of love, is onstage at the Greenbelt Arts Center and features a talented and comedic cast.
The play features eight scenes and explores the ups and downs of love. As the director’s notes state, “its birth, its growth, its thriving, and sometimes, unfortunately, its demise.” For anyone who has ever been in love, this play will surely resonate on many levels.
Set on a cold, moonless night in Almost, a town that never got around to fully incorporating, the play is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”-like reverie where people find themselves falling in and out of love in a myriad of ways.
This ranges from two male friends who unexpectedly literally fall for each other to a couple whose female protagonist wants her boyfriend to return all the love she has given him over the years because he has failed to propose. In yet another scene, a soon to be wed female runs into her old boyfriend on the night of her bachelorette party and has to turn down his advances in the least painful way as possible.
In “Sad and Glad,” Rob Allen plays Jimmy, a shy, almost child-like man who would love to get back together with his former girlfriend Sandrine (Pamela Northrup), only to learn that she has hooked up with the local park ranger who is known for finding people lost in the wilderness. When Jimmy notes that, “he found you,” the depth of his pain is almost heartbreaking. Sandrine’s quiet “yes” is nearly as painful to hear and, as an actress, Northrup uses her body language to speak volumes.
In “This Hurts,” Christine Smith is impressive as Marvalyn, a woman who is in a failing relationship and who meets a man who does not feel pain. Jason Kanow plays Steve, a man who only can experience pain after Marvalyn gives him an unexpected kiss. Told in the past to avoid women because they can hurt you, Kanow does a great job of portraying what can potentially happen when one opens oneself up emotionally.
In “Getting It Back,” Emma Earnest as Gayle and Win Britt as Lendall are terrific as a couple who have dated for 11 years, but because of Lendell’s reluctance to propose, has driven her to demand back the love she has given him over the years.
Jason Kanow as Randy and Ryan Willis as Chad are two male best friends in “They Fell” and whose friendship is threatened when Chad announces he has fallen in love with Randy. The resulting tension that follows because one has crossed the line is wonderfully conveyed by the two.
Rounding out the cast of eight is Jenna Jones Paradis who plays a waitress in “Sad and Glad” and Glory in “Her Heart.” Paradis gives a solid, impressive performance in both.
“Almost, Maine” is directed by Bob Kleinberg, Pamela Northrup and Jason Kanow. This creative production is peppered with many gems.
“Almost, Maine” runs through Feb. 18 and tickets can be purchased by visiting greenbeltarts.org.