Two casts succeed in unprecedented performance

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Two casts succeed in unprecedented performance

Randy and Chad admit their feelings for one another while drinking by the lake.

Randy and Chad admit their feelings for one another while drinking by the lake.

Anna Henning

Randy and Chad admit their feelings for one another while drinking by the lake.

Anna Henning

Anna Henning

Randy and Chad admit their feelings for one another while drinking by the lake.

Melissa May and Kelly Colanto

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Almost, Maine, Fossil Ridge High School’s first major theater production of the year, took center stage with shows from Thursday, November 21, until Saturday, November 23. Almost, Maine is a relatively new play, as it was written by John Cariani and first performed on stage in 2004. The show does not focus entirely on one singular plot. It instead entails nine short plays about love, loss, and life in a mythical town called Almost.

Fossil’s production of Almost, Maine came with a twist for everyone involved though. For the first time in Fossil’s history, the school play has been directed by two different people―leading to two different casts, portrayals of the show, and completely different performances. Both John Garner and Kristin Rust got to try their hand at directing the play, and the final product brought about two shows that shined in their own ways and demanded to be seen.

Despite the similarities in the plot of the show, both directors had different visions for how they would depict some scenes and characters. For example, the way the directors chose to show off the awkwardness of some scenarios varied from show to show. Garner explained his vision of these scenes: “They’re both awkward, but I think, for me, I really find a lot of humor in the awkward, while Rust’s leans more toward awkward awkward. It really just comes down to a difference in interpretations and perspective.”

Other scenes were defined by their difference in voice and how the characters interact. Specifically, in “Getting It Back,” Rust’s cast has more physical contact when the characters share their feelings. There was also a lot of variation in the voice of the characters, and how the characters reacted or spoke depended on how the director felt the scene should be portrayed. Beyond these differences, the main plot remained the same and the settings and props did not change.

Almost, Maine opens with the introduction of Pete and Ginette who are the characters who introduce and conclude the play. Their story is that of two young lovers who lack much experience when it comes to being in love. The audience first sees them as they spend an awkward date stargazing, when, suddenly, Ginette says that she is in love with Pete. Pete is very surprised and simply tells her that he loves her back.

Ginette mentions how she loves being close to Pete, and he interrupts the moment by saying that, “technically” the nearer Ginette is to Pete’s side, the further she is from him. He takes a snowball to show how this works. She then takes a step back from him and continues walking further from him until she leaves the room, all the while Pete continues to tell her she is, in fact, getting “closer” to him. So, the lights dimmed on the first scene of the show and the audience is immediately left with a feeling of wanting to know what happens next.

The next storyline, entitled “Her Heart,” opens with a tired man, East leaving his home to see if the woman who has found herself in his yard needs any help. The woman, Glory, explains that she merely came to watch the northern lights and that she did not know that she was camped out in someone’s yard. Many awkward exchanges entail, as she apologizes for being in his yard and he tries to reassure her, until it comes out that she was there to pay respects to her deceased husband—her husband who had cheated on her. Her husband had asked for her forgiveness, but Glory said that she could not take him back. When he left her house, he was hit by a car and died. As she confides in East, a connection is formed and they find comfort in one another. The scene ends as East and Glory both admit to feeling a connection and continue to spend time with one another.

Anna Henning
Villian approaches Jimmy and tells him their special of the night: free drinks if you are sad.

The next story is set in the town bar, where we meet the main character, Jimmy. He is caught off guard as his ex-girlfriend, Sandrine walks by his table. He calls her over in an attempt to reconnect with her and get to know her again. The interaction is, of course, as awkward as any interaction with one’s ex would go. He explains that he had gotten a tattoo after they split that read “Villian,” a misspelling that he had not noticed. It comes out later that she was at the town bar for her bachelorette party, and she would be marrying someone else the following day. A waitress at the bar comes by after Sandrine leaves and mentions the bar’s special for the night: drink free if you are sad. Jimmy does not say anything to her, and as she walks away she mentions that her name is Villian and he should call for her if he needs anything. Both Villian and Jimmy say that they are glad to have found one another, and the lights dim on their scene.

 

The next love story features the characters Marvalyn and Steve. Their story is set in a laundry room, where Marvalyn is ironing her clothes and Steve is reading something on a bench. Marvalyn packs up her ironing board, iron, and clothes and gets ready to leave when she hits Steve in his face. She fusses over him briefly, terrified that she had injured him, but he simply asks if there was any blood or discoloration. She responds no, and he says that he is completely fine, as he cannot feel pain from items that are not on his list of what can hurt you. He also has a list of things to be afraid of. It is revealed that Steve has congenital analgesia, meaning he has an insensitivity to pain. He therefore keeps track of things that can cause pain and things to be afraid of. They talk for a while longer about his condition and their lives, and Marvalyn surprises him by kissing him after he mentions how he will not ever have to worry about love. She hurriedly tries to leave the laundromat in order to avoid the awkwardness, but on her way out, she hits Steve in the face accidentally once more with her ironing board. The final part of their story shows Steve feeling pain and being injured after being hit by the ironing board.

The final scene before the interlude opens with an upset Gayle coming to her boyfriend Lendall’s house, and demanding that he give her back all of the love she gave him. She tells him that she wants to break up and that she needs the love she gave him back so that she can love herself again. She goes out to her car to bring him all the love he gave her and returns with bags and bags of love. He goes to get the love she gave him and returns with a tiny bag. After a while of arguing, Lendall reveals that he took all of the love she gave him and bought a ring, so he could propose to her. He ends up giving her the ring in the end and they do not break up, as they realize how much love they have for one another.

The second act of Almost, Maine began by introducing two characters, Randy and Chad. The scene starts with the two men fishing at a lake after dark and chatting over a few drinks. During their conversation, Chad said he has had feelings for Randy for a while, which makes the whole situation uncomfortable. Randy is unsure of how he should respond because he is in a state of utter shock and confusion since they have been best friends for years. Randy tells him there is no way he can be in love with him and their night becomes very awkward. As Chad starts walking back to his car, he falls onto the ground, and when Randy asks what is wrong, Chad says he is falling in love with him and cannot stop himself. Randy says that he is talking crazy, but after more thought, his true feelings come out too and he falls in love as well. The scene ends happily, with the two of them hugging after confessing their feelings for one another.

The next storyline, “Where it Went,” begins with a married couple, Phil and Marci. The couple is out on a date night to try and rekindle their love for one another. As they are preparing their ice skates at the park, they start to argue over the fact that Phil does not pay attention to anything that goes on in their families’ lives. Phil denies this, but Marci points out a few of the things he has forgotten recently such as their son’s birthday, one of his daughter’s events, and his wedding anniversary which happens to be that same night. Once she brings this up, he realizes he has not been a very good husband and regrets not being there for her. They decide it is better if they just go home so they take off their skates but Marci can not find one of her snow boots. She looks all over the park and in the car and when they expect it the least, her shoe abruptly falls out of the sky, exactly where she thought it was not going to be.

Anna Henning
Hope returns to her home town to reunite with her ex-boyfriend and rekindle their broken relationship.

The next story features Hope, a woman that moved out of Maine to get away from the small-town lifestyle. She flew into the town to see a man and answer a very important question he had once asked her. She arrives at the house in the middle of the night and knocks on the door frantically. As soon as it opens, she begins ranting about how sorry she is for what happened between them. She finally looked at the man and noticed that she is not speaking with the right person, but still she continued to tell him what happened. The man, her ex-boyfriend, had asked her to marry him and she said she did not have an answer yet but he offered a deal―if she could answer before the sun came up, he would accept that. She left his house and never returned until that night. She told the man at the door about her regrets and how sorry she feels for leaving him hanging. After asking where her old boyfriend might be, she realized that she had been talking to him the whole time. The man’s appearance had changed because of the heartbreak she invoked on him, making him unrecognizable. He tells her that the sun has not technically come up yet, so her answer is still valid. But, then we hear someone calling from inside the house. Hope asks who this is and he tells her that it is his wife. Hope is crushed and has immediate regret towards coming to their home.

The final story entitled, “Seeing the Thing,” showed two best friends, Rhonda and Dave, who are out camping together. He reveals his feelings for her and she brings to his attention that she has never been in a relationship and she is unsure of how to love. Dave got Rhonda a present which seems to be a painting, with an unrecognizable figure on it. Rhonda can not see what the art is portraying and after many attempts, Dave said that if she does not exactly focus on the object, she will be able to understand what is on the canvas. After a few minutes of guesses, she was able to crack the code. This was, in my opinion, the funniest story in the production. Towards the end of the scene, the characters started ripping off their own layers to reveal matching red pajamas and they run into the trailer behind them. The whole audience was left laughing at the silliness of this scene.

The epilogue was performed by the same characters who opened the show in the prologue. This allowed for the show to have a proper ending that tied the entire play together. Pete is seen sitting on the same bench that started the play on, while Ginette has supposedly walked around the Earth just so she can be closer to her boyfriend. The production comes full circle at this point, and it is the perfect way to end the show, as it leaves the crowd with a sense of completion and happiness knowing the ending of the story that began it all.

Overall, Almost, Maine was an amazing play and, despite differences in the two portrayals of the show, both excelled in their own ways. Auditions are currently being held for the next musical, Newsies, which will take place in the spring.