Almost, Maine is a warm and delicate delight from the Iowa City Community Theatre.

The Iowa City Community Theatre brings John Cariani’s collection of quirky stories to the stage with laughter and heartfelt delights.


Jenna Galligan

Sharon Falduto and Duane Larson share a glance as Lendall and Gayle in a scene called, “Getting in Back” during a dress rehearsal of Almost, Maine at Iowa City Community Theatre on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. The show will run Dec. 6-8 and 13-15, directed by Nate Sullivan.

Pedro Barragan, Arts Reporter

 To coincide with the Iowa’s current temperature, the Iowa City Community Theater’s winter line-up included bringing Almost, Maine to their stage this season.

 John Cariani’s play, directed by Nate Sullivan, is a collection of nine love stories, all set in the fictional underdeveloped town of Almost, a small town in Northern Maine. Each tale contains different characters in tiny episodes in which they try to express their affection to other— or close them off permanently.

Jenna Galligan
Brooke Willis and Jennifer Beall share a scene as Shelly and Deena in a scene called, “They Fell” during a dress rehearsal of Almost, Maine at Iowa City Community Theatre on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. The cast will alternate whether the scene is performed by men or women at each show. The show will run Dec. 6-8 and 13-15, directed by Nate Sullivan.

 The world is established merely by a bench with a pine trees in the back of the set, with a warp of lights representing the Northern Lights that waltz on the timid Friday night, conveying the mood of sadness with sparks of whimsical hiccups.

The stories revolve around Maine residents, all coping with relationship struggles, some solving them and some ending them. The play begins on a bench where a young couple (Alan Ridgway and Brooke Willis) attempt to resolve the limits of their affection. If it’s a shooting star coinciding with the disappearance of a shoe, two macho friends having a beer before discovering an affection for one another, or a woman in an unloving relationship feeling comfort in a young man who feels nothing at all, these stories intertwine with the play’s theme of loneliness and one’s difficulty to express their true feelings to one another.

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 One of the chapters that might represent the core of the play’s themes is “Her Heart,” the first scene of Act 1. Theatre-goers are introduced to Glory, played by Kristina Rutkowski, who has built a tent on what was once a potato farm that is currently the backyard of East, played by Brian Tanner.

Glory only wishes to see the Northern Lights, where East wants to know why someone decided to camp on his property. The story takes some unexpected turns, from revelations of love, murder (sort of), and multiple hearts. The stories are both funny and heartbreaking.

The weather is cold, but the characters are warm. These individuals and their stories are quirky to the highest extent that they reminisce the cute holiday ensembles like Love, Actually, showing us that one must sacrifice seriousness to enjoy these stories, since although they aim to have the audience feel. It’s innocent and just request laughs and possibly tears from those expecting a convenient ending.

 But to experience this show in community theatre makes more sense than with established names or in a different setting than one’s own home. These characters are dressed in the attire of working-class individuals, spending their free time outside skating or drinking beers. It’s down-to-earth, and seeing these characters portrayed by individuals living the same lives as those watching creates a more personal connection.

Viewers are kept with these characters because they are expressing feelings in the most awkward of ways but tidied up within a Gary Marshall aesthetic to satisfy viewers of how they wish reality would camouflage.

Almost, Maine is performed for a certain demographic, one that enjoys Hallmark movies with hot chocolate, which is cliché and corny, but nonetheless satisfies the wants of whom they intend to entertain.