Reviewed by Karla Froehlich
Almost, Maine is an adorable vignette-style show that has been mounted this weekend by the Fenton Village Players for their first Second Stage production. All puns intended, this fresh cast brought out the splendors snowflakes bring; each with a unique quality and beauty, that sparkle for a moment and fade quickly, leaving very little trace and impacting like an avalanche. Set in a town that is – almost, we get a glimpse into characters who have found themselves – almost.
There are some definite maybes in these relationships, but most certain are the “almost” situations throughout this community. We, as an audience, ultimately decide to where these stories lead, as the author leaves only clues. A small ensemble of actors rendered two or three characters each, bringing life and expectations to these almost fully realized humans. Just about the time you think you have a situation in hand and know where the author is taking you, a rug is slipped out and you’re waffling and wondering what is next, till you are reminded, gently, that this is a sweet telling of love in many lights – including the Northern kind.
Twelve lovely young actors brought us nine scenes about love and romance and discovery and disappointment; truth and lies and things we make up in our heads that have nothing to do with the actual situation. The scenes clipped along like they knew exactly where they were headed, and still, the actors let us choose for ourselves, rather than telling us what to think or how to react.
The sets were simple and had only what was absolutely needed to convey the stories, as the show is usually done. There were a couple sightline troubles, and the thrust stage and cabaret tables and seating lent them to that and, by contrast, to feeling very inviting and relaxed. I loved being able to eat and drink a bit during the show; very laid back.
Each actor left a piece of themselves onstage, but two performances stood out Friday evening: the elastic emoting of Samantha Campbell in the Prologue/Interlogue/Epilogue, and Matthew Sokoloski playing Steve, a man who feels no pain. While all the performances were edible, these two were delicious. A bit of dessert was dished up by Daniel Ragan in scene seven – a Story of Hope. With a dash of salt, only the dog would lick this dish. The richest dish of this sweet meal was served up last by Mr. Sokoloski and Brooke Caldwell, and while all is revealed eventually, it takes a bit to peel away the layers of protection.
This organization really has a grasp of keeping community in the theatre. Some names came up in several areas of volunteering, and there were still over twenty people involved in this small, but mighty piece. This is undoubtedly a nicely meshed group, all feeding the monster that is community theatre.
Almost, Maine plays this weekend ONLY, so get your tickets right now! It continues at the Fenton Village Playhouse, 14197 Torrey Road, Fenton, MI today at 7 pm and Sunday at 2 pm. Contact the box office at 810-750-7700.