This past weekend, our extended family had an opportunity to attend and enjoy a college play performance at the Studio Theatre on the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus. The play, "Almost Maine", was written by John Cariani. It was directed by Janice Fronczak, Associate Professor of Theatre - Performance. The UNK performance was staged in the more intimate setting of their black box theatre. This play is a series of playlets featuring different residents of Almost and the ups and downs of various relationships.
For full disclosure, younger daughter was one of the performers, having three different roles, in this play set in the fictional township of Almost, Maine. She played one role of a young lady letting her boyfriend know she loved him and having him not react at first to her declaration of love. He was rather scientific about how he viewed the relationship which set her out on a fictional journey updated through the course of the play. This ended with her returning to him at the very end.
In the second vignette she was in, she played a waitress at the Moose Paddy, the local watering hole. While the vignette revolved around two of the locals and how the guy thought he and his one night stand from months prior had something. The gal had moved on and was engaged to someone else. He hadn't moved on and punished himself but as the scene came full circle the man realized the new gal might be worth getting to know. Part of the realization revolved the man getting a misspelled tattoo as a part of his punishment. In the end the tattoo was the name of the new gal he had been apparently destined to meet.
The third vignette involved a married couple realizing they had grown apart. The wife tried to get the spark reignited on their anniversary by revisiting the location of their first kiss but the husband was clueless and the wife didn't know how to communicate effectively. They both were lonely and had drifted apart irrevocably. She drove off leaving him alone.
There were other playlets involving a girlfriend returning to her old flame only to find him old and married. Another instance same sex friends finally came to the realization they loved each other but not without a whole lot of denial playing out. There was one scene that had a woman bring back all the love she had given to her boyfriend in the 11 years they had dated. She brought bags and bags of his love back. He just gave her a ring because it symbolized all the love he had received. It illustrated how two people in the same relationship can have expectations entirely different from one another.
Another part had a couple meet after the woman had tragically lost her spouse but was trying to say good bye to him because she heard that three days after one dies the soul carries a torch to heaven and you can see that in the Northern lights. This gal inexplicably just come to camp out in someone's yard in Maine to say goodbye. This was delightfully funny because she had a brochure which told her people in Maine were friendly and you could camp out in their yards if you were a hiker or whatever. She lands in the fix-it guy's yard and he ends up trying to fix the broken heart.
There was also the snippet involving a challenged young man with no pain reaction being awakened and confused by the kiss of another man's girlfriend. The final scene involved two friends who had been known each other for years. The guy convinces the girl that kissing him was okay and that he was worth investing in emotionally even though his snowmobile was an Arctic Cat. It took a little bit of persuasion via lip locks with the gal finally melting her outwardly cold exterior to reveal she really did need his affections.
The Studio Theatre has a limited number of seats and this was the inaugural performance after its refurbishment. The Studio Theatre did not have a stage in the traditional sense of an auditorium stage. The set up was having the audience on two sides and the dramatic action taking place on a semi-circle area in the theatre. The scene were changed by two crew dressed in all white to blend in with the snow and northern lights. They added a bit of comic relief between the scenes.
The play was enjoyable, first and foremost because our favorite actress was involved. It was also enjoyable because it had something for everyone in it. Our group ranged in age from almost 18 to 75 and we all found parts to enjoy.
It was well worth the drive across the snowy Nebraska byways to get to Kearney to meet the residents of "Almost Maine."