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'Almost Maine' Warms a City Slicker's Heart


Almost Maine, the delightful new comedy enjoying its Los Angeles premiere at the Colony Theatre in Burbank, is the best advertisement for our country's northern most state that any chamber of commerce could hope for.  Playwright John Cariani, who grew up in rural Maine, has set us down in the land of long winters and big sky where cupid and his arrow are working overtime. 

Four actors play 19 characters who are either looking for love, flirting with love or re-discovering love in this anthology of vignettes that examines the joy and heartache of romance.  

In one scene, a woman named Glory comes to see the northern lights so she can say good-bye to her husband as he's carried off to heaven.  She clings desperately to a bag containing the splintered remains of her shattered heart.  Before dying, her cheating husband broke it, leaving her to pick up the pieces… incapable of returning love.  Enter Eastern, the guy whose backyard she's in—who grabs away the bag each time he sweeps her into his arms for a kiss. 

In another,  "Getting It Back," Gayle has brought back all the love her boyfriend Lendall has given her.  She enters like Santa Claus with half a dozen giant, red sacks and wants all the love she has given him immediately returned.  Cariani knows how to gives us big laughs, but he also leaves enough unwritten for us to fill in the blanks.

Caroline Kinsolving, Louis Lotorto, Donald Sage Mackay and Dee Ann Newkirk are skillfully proficient in their portrayals of townspeople each with their own emotional characteristics.  In fact, at one point, I had to check my program to make sure there weren't more actors in the cast.

David Rose's sharp direction keeps the whimsical tone of the off-beat material from ever getting too precious or overly sweet.  The set Design by David Potts and lighting by Jeremy Pivnick add to the magic of this snowy locale.

Maybe it's the magical embrace of the northern lights amidst all that ice and cold, but Almost Maine warmed this city slicker's heart.

Almost Maine runs through March 9 at the Colony Theatre in Burbank.  Ticket prices frange from $37 - $42 and can be purchased by calling 818-558-7000 ext. 15 or at the box office, located at 555 North Third Street in Burbank. 

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