SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – “Almost, Maine” is a sweet evening of short plays filled with whimsy and imagination. It is about life in a rural community where everyone seems to have a fairy godmother who guides them on the path of true love.
A couple meet; one looks into the other’s eyes and immediately declares that he is in love. And even if that’s not how she feels, you can be sure that she will soon see the light – or in this case the Northern Lights.
Even when a woman brings a multitude of trash bags filled with the love she’s given to the boyfriend she’s breaking up with, you can be sure that the little bundle of love he gives her back is a solution to theirs. problems.
Perhaps the piece that most defines the philosophy of the entire work is âThis Hurtsâ. It is a scene in which a man has to figure out how to overcome the fear of pain in order to love. The contrast is a woman who has to recognize her pain in order to fall in love.
But a word of warning, take advantage of âAlmost, Maineâ for pleasant, innocent romance stories rooted in fantasy. Don’t look for anything deep in the material. The play thrives on charm, not in-depth knowledge of human behavior. He says what everyone knows: love can be wonderful, but don’t overthink it.
Approach Home Made Theater production in the same way. Take advantage of each segment for what it is. Forgive the casual game that seems too sentimental. If every part isn’t cast to perfection, don’t worry, the next one will. Above all, don’t try to connect dots to make more play than it is. These are nine couples, played by six actors, all confronted with love and life without a roadmap. Just like you and me.
Director Michael McDermott skillfully stages the work. It’s a special chore because at the Dee Sarno Theater at the Saratoga Arts Center, the production is offered on tour. It not only offers blocking challenges, but it sometimes puts the actors a few inches from the audience, endangering the theater’s protective fourth wall.
To everyone’s credit, the actors work with total focus to make unreal people appear real while remaining fictional. This is the definition of good theater, acting and staging.
However, McDermott and the actors’ greatest achievement is that while no scene is directly linked to another, and with the exception of the prologue and epilogue, we never see a character twice, the play has the impression of an overall production. You believe that these people all live in the same community, share the same values ââand have the same hopes and dreams.
Creating multiple distinctive characters is not always easy. Michael C. Mensching wins audiences laughs and hearts as he creates a truly comedic, slow-witted, kind-hearted guy who will likely never have the girl. The problem is, he’s the same in each of his scenes.
Another problem is that once an actor makes an impression, it is difficult to dispel the image. Bill Geltzeiler is such a talented and funny actor that he makes you laugh every time he takes the stage. In a later scene with Linda Mizeur, it’s a bummer when he plays the character perfectly sadly.
To be clear, it’s not his job that’s the problem; Geltzeiler is a versatile artist. It’s the way the audience’s expectation has been set that creates the distraction. It might have helped if there were more than two men in the cast of six.
On the theme of versatility, in the case of Joelle Malinowski, it’s a pleasure to see her go from a sexy young woman in “Sad and Glad” to the tough firefighter who has never been kissed in “Seeing the Thing “.
Toni Anderson-Sommo and Joan Meyer both cope with a vulnerable middle age throughout the evening, but their work is high in “They Fall.” Vulnerability is always present, but it combines with tenderness made funny and physical humor.
While it should be added that Meyer wields a wicked ironing board in âThis Hurtsâ and Anderson-Sommo is touching when in âHer Heart,â she reveals how hearts can truly break.
Linda Mizeur is only in one room and does well as a woman who has bad timing as she tries to come to terms with a former lover. However, in âStory of Hope,â the age difference between her and Geltzeiler confuses the reality of the situation.
But reality is not what “Almost, Maine” is about. It’s about love, magic and believing in both. It’s a nice way to spend two hours.
“Almost, Maine” by Home Made Theater at the Dee Sarno Theater at the Saratoga Arts Center, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. He plays until Sunday. Proof of vaccination is required for entry and masks must be worn inside the building. For tickets and schedule, information go to homemadetheater.org