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Almost, Maine a success with audiences

By Britt Nygaard
On March 28, 2012

"Almost, Maine, a small town in northern Maine that doesn't

quite exist...." Is the setting for this past weekend's Xavier Players show Almost, Maine. This show, written by John Cariani, consists of eight 15-minute segments interconnected

by the location of this unincorporated Maine village. As noted in the playbill, each story "takes place at nine o'clock

on a cold, clear, moonless, slightly surreal Friday night in the middle of the deepest part of a northern Maine winter."

The play opens with two young lovers, Pete and Ginette, sitting on a bench looking at the stars. Their short story serves as both the prologue and epilogue to the play, and also brackets the intermission. Cute as it is, the stories

in between are the ones that really pull on your heart strings.

My particular favorite was "This Hurts." In this segment, Steve, played by senior Ollie Birckhead, is a mildly mentally

disabled young man with a congenital insensitivity to pain. His older brother, Paul, mentioned but never seen, is teaching Steve what should hurt and what he should be

afraid of in order to prevent him from harm; Steve writes all of this down in two notebooks. Marvalyn, a young woman in an unhappy relationship living in the same apartment complex, is the first to point out to Steve that pain

is not always physical, but sometimes emotional. The tale of their charming friendship captured the show. Birckhead's performance, in particular, was authentic and heartwarming.

My only critique of the play was that all characters stayed on

stage during their entire half of the play (four skits), even when their scenes were not performing. While I cannot fault the abilities of all the Xavier Players to stay frozen at the end of their scenes, it gave the skit that was performing limited mobility, and made the stage feel slightly claustrophobic.

Overall, however, I loved Xavier's rendition of Almost, Maine. The play itself was delighting and funny and was enhanced by the excellent performance of the Xavier Players.

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