Goshen Players, Goshen: When John Cariani spoke about his play “Almost, Maine,” he said that if it was presented strictly as comedy that would be terrible. He also said that if it were too cute or too depressing that would be equally terrible. Happily, the Goshen Players hit the sweet spot and got it absolutely right. This play is a series of scenes that address all matters of love while subtly tugging at your heartstrings and tickling your funny bone. Emotions open honestly and poignantly as each scene unfolds.
Director Joe Guttadauro has a dream cast that functions freely and artistically. Keeping the dramatic flow smooth and clean, Guttadauro has beautifully crafted a string of vignettes into one complete entity. His timing is superior as he punctuates each scene with a most unexpected exclamation point. This director has brought out the best of the script, the actors, and the action. He couldn’t have paired these couples more perfectly.
Set in a northern section of Maine, that is “almost” a town, but not quite, Samuel Man (Pete) and Stephanie Renzullo (Ginette) get the ball rolling — quite literally. That’s a very realistic snowball by the way. Meanwhile, David Marshall and Kristen Moresi experience new found love against a backdrop of Northern Lights, impeccably rendered by Andy Smith. In the second scene, Daniel Dressel, Rhiannon Carta, and Stephanie Renzullo discover how a misspelled tattoo can be the key to love.
It’s impossible not to wince in scene three when Devon Richtmeyer hits Samuel Man over the head with an ironing board. The action is realistically repeated and leads to a better understanding of what hurt is really like. Scene four is a shocker when Stephanie Renzullo gives back all the love that Ethan Parsons gave her and demands that he returns her love for him. She wants it all back and we’re talking huge bags filled to the brim with love.
Scene five has a couple of guys (Ethan Parsons and Daniel Dressel) literally falling for each other. Scene six is when David Macharelli and Kristen Moresi realize that that they just don’t belong together when Kristen drops the other shoe. This is the best timed scene ever. The final scenes are all executed with finesse.
What makes this ensemble of actors so special is that they are at ease with their passion. That’s what sets them apart and makes each performance unique. The single set winter wonderland is distinctly designed by Dan Ringuette. Looking like a snow globe, this set features evergreens and snow. Dave Boscarino, Jim Weber, and Patrick King not only built a solid and attractive set, but they managed to get that Goshen radiator into the set as well. Don’t forget to look for it. It’s somewhere in every show. It’s like looking for Waldo. Dan Koch’s original music was a silver thread that pulled all the shining scenes together.
This play has been performed at many theaters. There are 11 actual scenes that directors can choose from, so chances are if you have seen the play, you probably didn’t see all of these scenes. Even if you had, you’ve never seen them done like this. Honestly, I don’t know how so much talent managed to make its way to this fine old stage. Actually, several actors in this show are making their debuts. I guess we could argue that some actors are just born with talent. The show plays through Nov. 10. Box office: 860-491-9988.
Joanne Greco Rochman, a founder of the Connecticut Critics Circle, is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.