Saturday, November 24, 2018

Almost Maine Shows Real Fusion at the Fusion

John Cariani’s Almost Maine play is a definite crowd pleaser and a quite perfect college level play. It balances gentle humor, heartbreak, and nostalgia quite evenly, while profiling in particular how easy it is to fall into and out of love and how easy it is to fail to send the cues about your feelings that will keep a relationship developing in a positive direction.   

This group directed production at Monmouth College’s Fusion theatre from Dr. Vanessa Campagna’s stage directing class was a totally enjoyable night at the theatre. Most impressive was the way in which the multiple student directors took their scenes and yet presented a seamless stylistic front in a situation that might easily have developed into a series of disjointed individual segments.

Let’s start with kudos for Patrick Weaver’s set and lighting design. Weaver’s rolling wagons did have a few movement difficulties, but they provided a smooth gliding transition between scenes.  The backlit cutouts of trees and the flickering pinpoints of light in the ceiling kept our eyes on the Maine woods of the setting and provided a constant reminder of the cold sparkle of a winter night. This was supplemented by good seques between the areas of the stage and nice use of juicy primary accents. The costumes also caught the Northwoods flavor nicely.

The show is perfect for young actors and the meaty roles are reachable by their developing talents. I loved seeing some new faces and was particularly enchanted with the winning freshness of Tori Chaffee as Ginette.  A special maturation congrat is also due for Will Best who has lost the stiffness of some of his earlier work and gave a remarkably deep performance in the “Where it Went” segment directed by Amanda Green.  All of the directors and their casts seemed sensitive to the use of pause and listening and reacting to clues from their partners.  Diction was as crisp and clear as the Northwoods night and there was no resorting to over dramatizing in the intimate Fusion space.

Thanks for a lovely show. Arizona will be calling this winter, but you can rest assured I’ll be back for Oliver in the spring.   

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