Red Deer College theatre studies students have launched the new season with a whimsical, charming look at love via the acclaimed play Almost, Maine.
Performances run through to Oct. 24th in Studio A. Curtain is 7:30 p.m.
Penned by John Cariani and directed by Calgary-based Kevin McKendrick, the play explores love and romance from a number of perspectives via a series of vignettes. Several of the students play multiple roles in a production that flows quite seamlessly from scene to scene in spite of the varying nature of what’s unfolding dramatically.
The story revolves around a few young folks from the community of Almost, Maine. As the synopsis reads, one cold, clear, “Friday night in the middle of winter, while the northern lights hover in the sky above, Almost’s residents find themselves falling in and out of love in the strangest ways.”
The appeal of the play springs in part from, as mentioned, the various perspectives it adopts. It’s not all sunny and sweet in this seemingly remote community when it comes to couples finding someone and cultivating a meaningful relationship.
One of the most powerful scenes shows a more mature couple Phil and Marci (terrifically played by Brendan Hutchison and Ashley Mercia) who are tired of propping up the charade of being happy. Hutchison and Mercia do a wonderful job of capturing how worn out this couple really is with pretense, and how weary they are with their dying relationship. Another scene shows two typical, outdoorsy, regular guys, Chad and Randy (played by Logan Shave and Trysten Luck respectively), who, without seeming to notice, have kind of fallen for each other, too. The actors are really engaging to watch as things start out on an ordinary level on an ordinary Friday evening with the two realizing that the other is ultimately who they really want to be with, and who brings them each the most happiness.
Of course, there’s lots of imagination and clever antics that buoy virtually every story in this play. For example, when these guys fall for each other – they really ‘fall’ – and that’s where precisely I will leave it.
Suffice it to say it’s part of a kind of ‘magic realism’, where something totally illogical, something that you might believe could not possibly happen in real life – actual happens.
Most of us can relate to someone in the show as the stories unfold – the devastation and desperation of unrequited love (superbly captured by Layne Zazalak). Or the woman (Emily Pole) who waited too long to express how she really felt to her boyfriend, and mistakenly believed he would basically wait around forever while she tried to come to a place of certainty in it.
Almost, Maine captures those various shades of the human experience of love really well. Adding to the overall sense of wonder is a delightful set complete with a shimmering, starry sky. Kudos to lighting designer Mathew Levesque and costume designer Jordan Wieben and set and props designer Lauren Acheson.
A world has been created that forms the perfect backdrop for these residents of Almost, Maine. And we as an audience feel like we are sharing a bit of their experiences along the way as well.
For tickets, visit www.bkticketcentre.ca or call 403-755-6626.