By Greg Baker
Almost, Maine is a town of just that: Almost. Almost love, almost heartbreak, and almost getting concussed from several hits to the head with an ironing board. This adorable winter’s evening was Falls Church High School’s production of “Almost, Maine.”
“Almost, Maine” is a comedy consisting of nine individual vignettes written by John Cariani. It has become one of the most produced shows in high schools across the country. Each vignette takes place in the town of Almost, Maine on one Friday night and deals with love and romance. Some scenes are about falling in love, sometimes literally, and some scenes are about heartbreak. The overall feel of the show creates a heartwarming, surreal atmosphere in the cold Almost air.
Falls Church’s production was highlighted by this atmosphere. Everything from the delicate lighting to the subtle, quaint acting contributed to this aura. One of the most intriguing elements was the work of the stage crew. During scene changes, the lights were up as the stage crew would run along moving set pieces. But unlike a traditional crew, they would create small, wordless scenes. Like picking up a heart shaped painting and staring longingly towards the stars to holding hands, the moments within scene changes were a tremendous addition to the show, and the crew should be lauded for its execution.
One of the production’s vignettes that stood out, “This Hurts” is about Steve (Jimmy Miller), who has a condition preventing him from feeling pain, and Marvalyn (Ava Hockenberry), who is in a destructive relationship. Both actors displayed wonderful chemistry together and utilized physical comedy well. This consisted of Hockenberry very realistically smacking Miller several times in the head with an ironing board. Miller’s dry sense of humor shone through with his unfeeling line delivery and made the vignette stronger.
“Where it Went” told the story of a married couple, Marci and Phil (Melanie Reuter and Gunnar Frodigh) out ice skating. While some actors had trouble portraying their characters’ age on stage, Reuter and Frodigh were believable as a married couple with children. One particularly striking element of this scene was the portrayal of temperature. From rubbing their hands together to subtle shivers, the actors, as well as the crew, created a cold Maine night under the hot stage lights.
Aside from the stage crew, other technical elements were also successful. Lighting (Jennifer Loch and Matt Quandt) featured subtle fades and realistic looking northern lights. The set featured the skeleton of a house, complete with a frosty window, along with several small set pieces such as chairs and a bench.
The cast and crew at Falls Church High School portrayed the romance of the show in a heartwarming manner, despite the frosty Almost air. The hilarious and often touching scenes from “Almost, Maine” created a wintry mix of romance, snowflakes, and maybe even a misspelled tattoo.
Greg Baker is a student at Chantilly High School and a member of Cappies, the Critics and Awards Program for High School Theatre and Journalism.