A Midwinter Night's Dream
Theatre of Dare explores love, loss and magic in 'Almost, Maine'
Under the mystical glow of the northern lights on a snowy Friday night, the residents of a small New England town fall in and out of love with reckless abandon.
That is both the premise and theme of Almost, Maine, a romantic comedy that Theatre of Dare has strategically scheduled around Valentine’s Day.
“This play has a lot of heart, both figuratively and literally,” says director Jimmie Lee Brooks III. “The northern lights add a bit of magical realism to it, but in essence it’s all about falling in love, falling out of love, picking up the pieces, and putting them back together.”
Set in the titular town, Almost, Maine is a series of vignettes focusing on the romantic entanglements of the tiny town’s residents, all occurring on a the same Friday night in the middle of winter. Eleven actors play 19 different characters, from young sweethearts on a park bench date to a long-married couple on a tense ice-skating outing.
The play itself has had a remarkable history, written by John Cariani in 2004 and winning accolades during its initial run at the Portland Stage Company in Portland, Maine. Its off-Broadway run in 2006 lasted only a month, but since then the show has become a favorite among non-professional theater companies worldwide, recently supplanting Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the most performed play in North American high schools.
“The beauty of this play is that it’s so relatable,” says Savannah Mercer, who plays two of Almost, Maine’s denizens. “I think people will be able to see themselves somewhere in Almost… whether it’s a true love, a love lost, or the one that got away.”
Adding to the intimate subject matter of the play is TOD’s ‘in-the-round’ staging, which will find the actors in the center of the Dare County Arts Council’s upstairs gallery, with the audience on three sides. “We want the audience members to come face to face with these remarkable characters and their stories,” says Brooks. “By the time they leave, we hope they feel like they’ve done more than see a show. We hope they feel like they’ve actually visited this place called Almost, Maine.”
“Almost, Maine” takes the stage Feb. 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees Feb. 4 and 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $11 for adults and $6 for students, and all performances will be upstairs at the Dare County Arts Council, 300 Queen Elizabeth Ave. in downtown Manteo. Due to limited seating, advance ticket purchase is strongly encouraged. For tickets and more information, go to www.theatreofdareobx.com.
(Savannah Mercer and Tyler Hudson are two young sweethearts exploring their feelings for each other in TOD’s romantic comedy ‘Almost, Maine’, opening Feb. 2 at the Dare County Arts Council)