By Victoria Gill
Elm Staff Writer
Flyers stating Arctic Cat For Sale, Help Wanted, Missing Shoe, and Town Events led audience members into a town just covered in fresh snow. They aren’t in Chestertown anymore.
The town’s slogan, “The Way Life Should Be,” welcomed audiences into Tawes for senior theater major Abbey Wark’s directing thesis of “Almost, Maine” by John Cariani, on Dec. 1 and 2. The last senior thesis production of the semester, Wark chose to go with a more lighthearted show than some of the previous SCEs this fall.
“I wanted to do something that was really fun…rather than trying to go back to those dark places and reanalyze another play through that lens,” Wark said.
Almost is a place where the territory is unorganized with no government influence, and the lives of the citizens reflect that messiness. The vignettes of their lives that make up the play showcase the quirky, awkward, and determined personalities of these characters at their most emotional. They are all going for what they truly desire most, which ends both in triumph and disappointment.
“I wanted to make sure our audiences see that these are real people with real emotion, and while the play is about love, it is also about the highs and lows of that emotion,” Wark said.
Love is shown in many ways as it is the theme that connects multiple stories. Closeness, fear of loving, being found, abuse, literally falling in love, moving on, and broken love are dark topics that “I really wanted to make…prominent,” Wark said.
Although the themes were serious, some scenes were played for comedic effect as laughter exploded from the audience.
Fantastical elements of shoes falling from the sky and boxes that symbolized the amount of love one gives a significant other are things “that wouldn’t happen in real life,” scenic designer junior Katie Peacock said, but Wark said that it blends the town’s magic with the raw emotion these people are feeling, and that it helps focus on the characters and the substance expressed in the different situations.
The design team was charged with making these themes come to life onstage. The team that included junior Conor Maloney, sophomore Kelly Young, junior Iz Clemens, sophomore Giselle Brown, Katie Peacock, senior Annie Grosscup, and junior Julia Lado.
Created by Maloney, the instrumental and acoustic transitions from scene to scene created a realistic atmosphere as characters interacted while entering and exiting the stage in the presence of stage crew members striking set pieces.
“I think that’s what’s great about this show in particular….there’s a little bit of a flaw in it, but that’s what makes it something we want to be a part of,” Peacock said.
While the set encased the perimeter of the stage, it left the center empty for the actors to expose the characters and break down their walls by having them face the tough reality and decisions of their emotions, which highlighted the wistfulness of love. The characters were not only trapped from second guessing their gut instinct, but also from being confined in these small locations where they aren’t “a bit closer to things,” like the script says.
“It gives people a sense of hope, and while there is a lot of emotional turmoil in this show, there’s this sense that everything will be okay in the end and I think people need that,” Wark said.
Freshman cast member Dominic Delcoco expressed how people see love as hard when the “not happy” is feared of being permanent.
He summed up what the show has to offer that reflect the effortlessness love has in itself.
“Love isn’t something to be scared of,” he said.