The town of Almost, Maine sounds just like Brunswick—a tight-knit community of flannel-wearing, L.L. Bean-loving folks. 

Almost is not actually a real town at all, but instead the setting for John Cariani’s play, “Almost, Maine.” Directed by Cordelia Orbach ’17, this Masque and Gown production tells tales of love and relationships in an environment not unlike that of Bowdoin.

Nineteen residents wrestle with their emotions through a series of nine vignettes set throughout the town: under the night sky, in the local bar, and even in a laundry room. Most acts are upbeat and charming, though there are a few mellower scenes.

“The whole play has a lot of themes that revolve around it being set in a really small Maine town and the fact that you will be around that community of people forever,” said cast member Axis Fuksman-Kumpa ’17, who herself is from a small town in Maine and plays Marci in the production.

The small-town Maine feel is present from the start. The opening scene features a couple bundled in gloves and jackets sitting on a snow-covered bench. Throughout, the play captures the idiosyncracies of Maine life that revolve around hospitality and isolation in very small communities.

Orbach, who had never before seen “Almost, Maine” but has read it many times, proposed staging the play because she felt Bowodin students would relate to its narratives.

“It’s about people who are dealing with the ins and outs of love [which] people on a college campus can relate to,” said Orbach. “There’s a little bit of love for everybody, so faculty members and Brunswick town residents [can also relate].”

Typically, only five actors rotate through the 19 different roles. However, Orbach wanted to involve more people to create the feel of a small town on and off set.

“It is an intense experience, but it’s not such a time commitment that people who are involved in other activities can’t also be part of it,” she said.

“We did a lot of ensemble building work...because it’s a town, I wanted them to feel like a town, like a community. The cast is really tight-knit,” she added.

The cast consisted mostly of first years and sophomores, with a few juniors and seniors. Because the play is divided into short vignettes, there are no “lead” roles. Instead, everyone has a personal, approximately ten-minute scene with only one or two other actors.

Some actors auditioned because they found the story appealing.

“I actually wasn’t intending to do any shows this semester because it was so busy,” said Dieu Ho ’15, who plays Marvalyn. “But it sounded interesting, so I just went for it.”

Luke Scheuer ’17, who plays Jimmy, voiced a similar opinion.  

“I took a look at the script, and it just seemed like a really interesting play and something that I would want to do,” he said.

Much work also went into the directing side of the show. Stage manager Arhea Marshall ’15 and production manager Christina Moreland ’17 worked to carry out the creative vision of the play. Amy Spens ’15, this year’s technical director for Masque and Gown, worked over Fall Break to build the set.

“[Orbach] really wanted it to be a focus on the acting and these people as real people in Maine and what’s going on in their lives,” said Spens.

The sets were simple and minimal to allow the audience to absorb the scene.
Many of the actors and crew have experience in theater at Bowdoin. Orbach has a history in both acting and directing.

Masque and Gown’s “Almost, Maine” will be performed Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25 at 7:30pm in Pickard Theater. 

Tickets are $1 with a Bowdoin ID and $3 without.