I have a lot of love for a nice cheesy romantic comedy every once in a while, and Almost, Maine feels like ten smashed into an hour and a half. It’s a play about formulas: Take a basic meet-cute, add a pun based around a classic saying with some pacey dialogue and Ta-Dah, you’ve got yourself a scene. Having been in a play not unlike this when I was a fresher (Check Please, for anyone wondering), this show made me feel an odd nostalgia for that awkward fresher period. But even beyond that, the cast and crew of this show should be commended for a strong set of fun performances that made me laugh more than a lot of theatre I’ve seen this past year.
Like I said, take a meet-cute, a common saying (i.e Broken Heart, Falling in Love, Giving all of your Love) and you have a great few scenes. For example, when Chad and Randy fall in love, the two literally start falling over as soon as they find out they’re in love. The set up could fall into something pretty grating and dull quickly, but the skill of the performers themselves keeps it bright and fun. Martin Caforio, fresh off a great performance in Rabbit Hole, brings an awkward charm to all six of his characters, particularly the bizarre confidence of Chad, a bi man falling for his best friend Randy (played by George Watts). Emma Johnston takes a gloriously believable turn as a beleaguered wife (Marci) and as Gayle, begging for her girlfriend to propose, not to mention her great original song for the intro. Finally, Maia Rakovic brought a sweet charm to her roles as Hope, coming home from college to search for her ex-boyfriend, and Marvalyn, a girl meeting someone who can’t feel pain.
The problem with this play is the same that most Freshers plays run up against – not a lot of set and some struggles with lighting. This is mostly an issue with some awkward scene transitions, and I can’t fault the team for that – working in the Barron for the first time is a struggle. However, unlike most freshers plays, Almost, Maine has some very expressive costume design – lots of variation between characters, as well as a good Winter Wear theme, which is key to the Maine setting.
Overall, Almost, Maine was one hell of a fun time. Cute, cheesy moments mixed with great comedic action are bound to make for a great night at the theatre, and I look forward to seeing what the cast and crew bring to St Andrews theatre in the future.