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Theater Review: “Almost, Maine”

Thursday and Friday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2 pm
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Men and women may not be different species, but sometimes it seems they live on different planets, as John Cariani’s fanciful “Almost, Maine” demonstrates in a lively production playing through April 27 at Vista’s Broadway Theater.

“Almost, Maine” is “not Maine and not Canada, but almost.” The residents of Almost (the town never got organized enough to get itself recognized as a “real” town) are represented by four fine actors, combining in funny, touching or strange ways to give us eleven short vignettes of human connection (or the failure thereof) in the snowy north. Kathy Brombacher, artistic director emerita of Vista’s Moonlight State Productions, helms the show.'

Poor Pete (Devin Collins) picks a strange way to try to impress Ginette (Renetta Lloyd), with whom he shares a bench. He shows her a snowball and tells her that “the farthest away you can be from somebody is if you’re sitting right next to them.” This has to do with the earth’s orbit or something, and confuses Ginette as much as it did me. As a romantic strategy, it’s a flop.

Then there’s hiker Glory (Lloyd), pitching a pup tent in a likely field from which to watch the Northern Lights. There’s only one problem: she’s inadvertently ended up in somebody’s backyard … and he (East, played by Kenny Bordieri) lets her know it. Will he let her stay?

Upstairs/downstairs neighbors Steve and Marvalyn (Kelly Derouin) have interesting encounters with an ironing board in the building’s laundry room; married couple Phil (Bordieri) and Marci (Derouin) wait for the other shoe to drop; and Rhonda (Lloyd) tries to appreciate the piece of “adult ed art” Dave (Bordieri) painted for her.

You may not have had experiences quite like these, but almost everybody can identify, as the result of some romantic encounter that went spectacularly wrong or absolutely right at some point in the past. And director Brombacher gets fine portrayals out of this fine cast.

A simplified set design by the director and both owners of the theater – Douglas Davis and Randall Hickman – takes care of the minimal requirements in these areas, while versatile costume designer-turned-actor Renetta Lloyd offers warm costumes for the cast in its different incarnations.

Randall Hickman’s lighting picks up the ethereal feeling of the Far North, while

Kathy Brombacher and Tommy Eyler contribute a lovely sound design.

“Almost, Maine” is in the vein of “Love, Actually,” offering a charming, often funny glimpse at one aspect of the human condition.

The details

“Almost, Maine” plays through April 27, 8, 2019 at the Broadway Theater, 340 East Broadway, Vista.

Thursday and Friday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets:  (760) 806-7905 or http://www.broadwayvista.biz/adult-shows.html