Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Almost, Maine @ The Gym at Judson

   The delightful performance of Almost, Maine presented at The Gym at Judson by director Jack Cummings III was a complete treat to experience. Set in the not quite a town, of Almost, the audience was transported through different romantic situations for an off-beat, “almost”, romantic comedy. 
   The cast of four played a range of 21 characters who experience all stages of love: first love, broken hearts, marriage troubles, etc. Playwright, John Cariani starred as a series of male characters that are both heartwarming and socially awkward. His portrayal as Dave in the vignette “Seeing the Thing” was particularly lovable while, in “This Hurts,” his character, Steve was charming with an open honesty that left the audience applauding before the lights dimmed. 
   Kevin Isola’s and Donna Lynne Champlin created the perfect scenario of married couple exhausted by life. Their’s was the only story that resonated truthfully without the added illusion of new love in any form. Kevin’s performances were spot on as what seems to be the only normal male living in the town. Particularly interesting was his portrayal as Man in “Story of Hope.” 

   One of the best scenes was due to Donna Lynne Champlin and Kelly Mcandrew’s chemistry during “They Fell.” They truly captured the whimsical moment of falling in love and the audience was clearly captivated. Donna Lynn’s winning performance in the scene “Her Heart,” set the speed for her performances throughout the show. She was memorable in everything she performed, no matter the character. 

   Last, but certainly not least, was Kelly McAndrew as the other leading lady in the play. She played everything from the disappointed soon to be fiancee, to the newly discovered lesbian, to the heartbroken high school sweetheart with aplomb. Her mannerisms were spot on and different for each character, leading to believable moments among a cast that seem to share a different kiss with each scene. 

   Scenic design and lighting design by Sandra Goldmark and R. Lee Kennedy create the atmosphere or each scene. Both simple and enchanting, their work didn’t overpower the acting, but enhanced it.  
Charming, real, and not always containing a “happily ever after,” Almost, Maine rings true for all the ages. 

   Almost, Maine opened Januray 21st at the Gym at Judson located at 243 Thompson street in the West Village. Get your tickets here!

Review by Aziza Seven
Photos provided by Transport Group

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