Driftwood Players

"Almost, Maine" Feb. - March 2008

By John Cariani, Directed by Tim Shute

Back: Sara Gray, Bryan Blackburn, Ben Hohman, Debbie Lansing
Middle: Ed Logue, Cheyenna Carroll, Jason Whited, Karissa Rask
Front: Margaret Tingwall

Scene from "Prologue"

Scene from "Her Heart"

 

Scene from "Sad and Glad"

 

Scene from "This Hurts"

Scene from "Getting it Back"

Scene from "They Fell"

Scene from "Where it Went"

Scene from "Story of Hope"

Scene from "Seeing the Thing"

Pictures by Keith Krueger

 


From the Daily World Friday February 15, 2008

Driftwood's "Almost, Maine" a whimsical look at love
By Callie White
 

      Driftwood's production of "Almost, Maine," is a series of vignettes of couples coming in and out of each others' lives in ways that are magical, folksy, odd and uniformly touching. The play shows that Driftwood has the capacity to tell unusual stories in a heartfelt, charming manner.

     
      And the stories in this John Cariani-penned script are all quirky and funny, in a way that heartens to community theater's usual light, comedic fare but is nuanced and subtle. There are a few dark undertones -- unraveling and abusive relationships make appearances, as does plain old loneliness -- but they only give greater depth to the humor in the play.
 
      The show is exceptionally well-cast. There wasn't an actor who felt out of place in his or her scene Friday night, and there are some real gems in here. Each actor had characters that were thematically similar, and from Driftwood veteran Margaret Tingwall's desperate, slightly unhinged travelers to newcomer Sara Gray's disappointed, heartbroken women, the pairings were pitch perfect.
 
      Deserving special note is Ben Hohman, who gave his folksy, slightly sad-sake characters a lot of empathy and humanity. But he's just one of many good performances, and it doesn't seem fair to leave out Jason Whited's performance in a scene in which he declares his feelings for his buddy, Karissa Rask's demanding ex-girlfriend, Bryan Blackburn's book smart-but-stupid-about-girls character, Debbie Lansing's just-been-hit-by-cupid sweetheart or Cheyenna Carroll's naive-but-game tomboy. And Ed Logue, given some of the more outlandish situations, managed to keep his characters -- from a repairman struck with unlikely love to a person with developmental disabilities, and an inability to feel pain -- from being cliche.
 
      The vignettes in "Almost, Maine," are written sparingly and with as much hinted at as actually said (there's a reason for the "Almost") -- Mainers are known for their reserve and laconic nature -- and the play is handled with the same restraint by the actors and in the minimalist set deign.
 
      With so much gentle whimsy at play -- we're talking literal bags of love here, people, and a woman with a broken heart she carries around with her in a bag -- "Almost" could have turned into a snow globe of tweeness. Thankfully, rather than overwhelm us with details or drench us with sentiment, we, the audience, come to the story and the characters. It's an impressively absorbing experience, and it's one where, by the end of the night, we can see the town of Almost coalesce, with it's plywood mill workers, Moose Paddy frequenters, apartment-dwellers and old married couples, what with its citizens having bared their hearts to us.

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