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Review: ALMOST, MAINE at Heart Repertory Theatre

Review: ALMOST, MAINE at Heart Repertory Theatre

The production runs now through September 11th.

Review: ALMOST, MAINE at Heart Repertory Theatre
Sonja Rose Usher and Cheyenne Bilbrey in
Almost, Maine at Heart Repertory.
Photo Credit: Sandro Menzel

ALMOST, MAINE at Heart Repertory Theatre beckons us to stop a while and enjoy a brief time of shared moments with average people in average situations, a slice of life if you will. Through the sharing of these moments, Heart Rep reminds us of the universal threads that connect our experiences to those all around us and even those in remote places such as Almost, Maine. New love, lost love, unrequited love, and unspoken love are all part of this story and in some ways, everyone's story. ALMOST, MAINE invites you into the lives of its residents and into their hearts as well.

ALMOST, MAINE consists of nine vignettes plus a prologue and epilogue each of which contain various residents of this remote town in northern Maine. As the show progresses, you learn the relationships between different characters from different vignettes as their stories intertwine. As such, it is truly an ensemble show without any leading characters. Many of the vignettes feature storylines and characters that draw you in so that you are left wanting more when the story shifts to another set of characters. But once you adjust to the tempo of the changes, the shifting becomes as natural as the fading of the lights. At times I felt like Jeff Jeffries in Rear Window looking into the lives of various people across the way.

Heart Repertory's production uses six actors to play the various twenty-one parts in the show. The actors make some quick costume and appearance changes to help the audience see a new character each time they appear. Even so, you quickly learn the cast members and can appreciate them for the diverse roles that they portray. The show starts and ends with the endearing story of Ginette and Pete. In this vignette, Karli Reinbold really stands out for the strength of her non-verbal storytelling. In "Sad and Glad" Sonja Rose Usher as Sandrine must announce her engagement to an old flame. Her tenderness and empathy reminds us how hard this really is. Dov Joel as Stever in "This Hurts" plays someone with congenital analgesia or someone who can't feel pain. In this scene he must navigate emotional reactions with physical non-reactions. He was really fun to watch. Cheyenne Bilbrey as Gayle in "Getting It Back" exhibits the true rollercoaster that a relationship can be, and she makes every high and low of it totally believable.

"They Fell" is a vignette that is repeated with different actors playing different characters. Seeing the different takes on the same piece was very interesting while also providing a commentary on how often best friends can become something more. Finally Denny Park and Samantha Hogue present the story of Dave and Rhonda in "Seeing the Thing." This real life couple brought each other to life with a playfulness and sincere connection. It was an especially strong performance by Hogue whose character was vastly different from those in previous scenes. The production team practiced the art of keeping it simple yet using the necessary devices and props to bring the show to life. I especially enjoyed the projection of the aurora borealis on the ceiling during "Her Heart." The show is set in the round giving the actors a lot of freedom to move and explore. The subtle changes in lighting enhanced the emotions and stakes of each vignette. The project was helmed by director Steve Cooper who had the group working well together.

Heart Repertory is a new player on the scene and making its mark in both live theater, online performances and film. I hope that the theater community will embrace this new group as they seek to provide more opportunities on the north end and eastside. Kudos to the Kenmore Community Club for opening its doors to another theater group. They already house the As If Theatre, and I hope it builds a beautiful synergy between the local community and the theater community. Come have your heart filled, broken, and mended with these stories of love from ALMOST, MAINE, playing now through September 11th at Heart Repertory Theatre at the Kenmore Community Club.

Photo Credit: Sandro Menzel

Regional Awards


From This Author - Kelly Rogers Flynt

Born and educated in the South, Kelly Rogers Flynt has happily transitioned to life in the Pacific Northwest where she enjoys more rain and fewer mosquitos. She works as a director, choreographer,&... (read more about this author)


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