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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Almost, Maine’ tugs on heart strings

Published: November 1, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc., Featured

Love. Serendipity. First kisses. It sounds a lot like a cliché romantic movie, but in “Almost, Maine,” these components were anything but cheesy. “Almost, Maine” is a play written by John Cariani and is set in a little fictional town of Almost. Consisting of nine refreshing vignettes about love and heartbreak, the play pulled in the audience and latched on to all of our hearts (excuse the cheesiness—this production is adorable.)

The crowd consisted of just 11 loved-up couples, two camera-clad reporters, and five excited parents. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the audience had a significant other with them. Cliché, but still cute. The play is the perfect show to see with someone you care about. Although the opening night crowd was small, a large turnout is expected over the weekend.

One aspect of the play that I enjoyed was the multiplicity of characters played by each actor. Emily Duggan ’15 played Sandrine, Gayle Marci, and Wife; Rachel Liff ’16 was Ginette, Villian, and Hope; Ryan Millis ’15 was Jimmy, Chad, and Dave; Jamie Semel was Glory, Marvalyn, and Rhonda; Joseph Tianiaow was East, Lendall, Randy, and Daniel; Yuval Yossefy ’17 was Pete, Steve, and Phil. Although this casting was somewhat confusing because it was difficult to follow who was who, it was a clever way of making all of the actors and actresses endearing to the audience. By putting them on stage multiple times, the members of the audience grew to love each and every single actor or actress. They had the opportunity to show different sides of themselves with each new performance, giving the audience a full picture of the talent in the cast.

Each couple’s story was either heart-wrenching or heart-warming. When a couple ended up together, they had a love so beautiful, so extraordinary, that the audience could not help but feel touched.. What was so special about all of these situations was that everything that occurs in the play happens to realistic characters—whether it be between two strangers, a pair of best friends, or a married couple. The romances are believable, and this makes them all the more poignant. At the end of each scene, I felt two things: the desire to know what happens later, and the excitement of knowing that I would watch another fascinating love story in a mere few seconds.

However, not each couple was fortunate enough to find everlasting love. A few fell out of love. These characters caused viewers to remember the cruel side of some romances: the breakup. Although no tears were shed, it was still sad to be reminded that sometimes love doesn’t always last or end the way people wish it would.

“Almost, Maine” is by far one of the best plays I have seen at Brandeis. This play is understandable, and viewers can easily relate it to their personal experiences. It’s quaint, charming, sweet, and most of all, too short. What made it so likeable was its ability to show people the beauty of New England. From the bundled up characters to the fake snow on the stage, every part of the play made the audience feel as if they themselves were outside witnessing every vignette in real life.

Everyone was hooked within the first few minutes of the play. On stage, married couples reminisced the early days of their romance; new ones fawned over their budding love. The play is set up so that the audience is always on the edge of their seats, constantly guessing what will happen.

At one point of the play, Glory states, “I felt like my heart would break. And that’s exactly what happened.” Sorry Glory, but by the end of the show, all of the audience’s hearts had been won over.