By Joe Cariani
Directed by Angela Cotto, Wade Hair and Nathan Jones
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL
When not under 15 feet of snow, Maine is a scenic place filled with stunning scenery, quaint villages, and a north wood desperation that can lead to all sorts of misery. Love and Budweiser are often the only release, although ice fishing and lumbering have a certain appeal as well. This perennially popular collection of slightly surreal love stories takes place somewhere up in the “The County” hundreds of miles from Crab Apple Cove and that L. L. Bean outlet store. It’s so far North they even forget their proper down east accents.
We open with Pete (Nathan Jones) sitting out in the cold with Ginette (Taylor Duford). She’s a bit friendly, but he’s one of those geeky guys who can’t pick up a sex cue if it fell on him. But in Almost, things DO fall on you. He points out that even if he and Ginette were sitting in each other’s lap, they are still as far apart as possible, because walking round the earth takes a long time. Perhaps wisely, she tests the hypothesis.
In “Her Heart” Glory (Allie Novell) discovers that while the guide book says you can camp in people’s front yard, her erstwhile host East (Matthew Villegas) finds it awkward. She just needs one night; she’s here to see her dead hubby’s spirt ascend with the Northern lights. East volunteers to reassemble those broken pieces of heart. It’s his job. Up country Maine – it takes all kinds. “Sad and Glad” takes us to the Moose Patty Bar where sad people can drink free. This is probably a poor business plan and a poor social policy in a place where opportunities are few and winters long. Jimmy (Jonathan Raffoul) isn’t taking up the offer even when he finds his ex-girl Sandrine (Vanessa Toro) is here for a bachelorette party, and it ain’t with him. Things are glum until he finds his self-effacing and misspelled tattoo is actually going to take him somewhere better, emotionally.
In the charming “This Hurts” Steve (Beejay Aubertin Clinton) physically can’t feel pain until he meets the abused Marvalyn (Duford) in the laundry room. It’s not her clocking him with an ironing board that hurts, it’s when he finds out he can actually feel love if his dufus big brother will let him. The romantic highlight of the night comes with “Getting It Back”. Gayle (Bridget Lindsay Morris) is fed up with Lendall (Thomas Solar); she brings back her love like its December 26th at the Mall. He gives hers back as well, but shrunk down to a small memento. Just like a guy: no commitment until just before the utilities are cut off.
Act two picks up with a fine bromance in “They Fell”. Randy (Eric Callovi) and Chad (Coletyn Hentz) trade dating horror stories and plan their next man-date. One offers going bowling, a few beers and a snowmobile ride while the alternative is bowling, a few beers and a snowmobile ride. Or maybe they can just fall in love, which has already happened.
“Where it Went” takes us to a more mature and bitter relation between Phil (Kevin Hudson) and Marci (Missy Miller) who are out skating. She misplaced a shoe but they both misplaced their teenage romantic feeling a few decades ago. A shoe SHOULD drop here but there’s no room to rig it and she will have to go home shoeless to figure this one out.
“The Story of Hope” brings things back around to where we began. Hope (Morris) takes a cab from Bangor out to see Daniel (Nic Jewell). She wants to accept his offer but the very real time warp of northern Maine makes her offer a few decades too late. Strike while the iron is hot, look before you leap, and be assured one of these is bound to be wrong. Lastly we enjoy “Seeing the Thing” which may be the sexiest of the shows. Dave (Hentz) has been snowmobiling with Rhonda (Devon Allyn Warner) for almost a year, but shes never invited him in for a beer or anything beyond that. Here she’s the romantically clueless one, and he’s the suave guy who offers up art of love. When she finally gets the drift it still takes 5 minutes to strip off the winter weather gear. And what of Pete and Ginette? Well, I think she cheated and just went around the block but that’s OK, now they are now close as possible.
For more information, please visit http://www.breakthroughtheatre.com or look them up on Facebook.