Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Dace Winzer and Monse Figueroa rehearse a scene in the Madera South Theatre Company’s production of “Almost Maine.”
Entering MSTC theatre on opening night of “Almost Maine,” I felt like I needed a heavy, winter coat as I looked at the crisp, wintery, snow-covered set of a remote fictional town in Northern Maine on a cold night in the dead of Winter. This rustic community, nestled in the woods, is artistically designed by the production team of Larry Latimer, James Hume, and producer Ginger Latimer, with extra labor courtesy of the Theatre Tech class.
This play is a collection of nine scenes about love and heartbreak, well performed by some very talented, young actors. The play was funny, touching, and downright sad at times. The actors in “Almost Maine” excelled in expressing disappointment, hope, misunderstandings, regret, and joy. The scenes kept the audience’s interest because each one seemed to suggest a turning point in these relationships. There is a liberal use of metaphors, understatements, and figurative language to a comical effect.
Several of the characters act on undeniable impulses to kiss the objects of their sudden attraction, taking the audience by surprise as evidenced by their laughs.
Truly an ensemble show, it’s difficult to single out individual performances, as all are to be commended by this tight, team effort. One of the scenes that stuck with me involves the disparity between the amount of love, size-wise, for a couple on the verge of breaking up after 11 years. Gayle, played by a talented Irene Martinez, is on the warpath and wants to trade all the love she gave to Lendall, convincingly portrayed by Josiah Bustos, for all the love he gave her.
This is all very figurative, of course, but Lendall takes it to a new level of complication. It’s delightful to see how these two characters deal with their resulting feelings.
In Act 2, one of the vignettes involves two snowmobilers, Rhonda and Dave, played by Rachel Diaz and Steven Alaniz. They are adorable as they navigate around the obvious: he’s crazy about her, and she’s rather clueless. This scene captures the joy of friendship turning into something more, and their playfulness is entertaining to see.
The lighting, designed by MSTC alumni Emma VanHoogmoed, set the perfect tone for witnessing the Northern Lights at night, with music that flows smoothly between scenes as the actors quickly execute the transitions between the Moose Paddy Bar, the rustic homes, or off to ice skate at Echo Pond.
Looking at what can be improved, I would suggest these kids deserve a performance space with decent acoustics. They projected well, but just think of what they could do with a “theatre.”
Madera South Theatre Company has delivered a strong and entertaining night of Theatre, and so it goes. Each segment of “Almost Maine” is tidily wrapped up, some with gentle twists and some with tugs of the heart.
“Almost Maine” will continue through Nov. 7, 8, 9, and 10. Show time is 7 p.m.
General admission is $10. Senior admission is $7, and student tickets are $5. The play will be performed at Madera South High School Theatre, 705 West Pecan Ave. For more information, please call 675-4450 or 706-4954.