Rural Maine is a weird place, a cross between Lake Wobegone of the Northeast and the Yukon. I can claim a little authority for this because I spent some time up there as a kid, where my uncle had a dairy farm and neighbors with names like “Old Norton” (no kid wanted to be caught alone with him) and Don, who was more horse than human.
Maybe that’s why John Cariani’s vignette-filled play, “Almost, Maine,” strikes me in the whimsical heart. I hope to see the play, which closes this weekend, but I’ve read excerpts from it and they take me back.
The play is a collection of nearly two-dozen vignettes, each with two characters. The subject is love in frigid temperatures and rural environments, along with the unintended consequences. The show is being put on by Swandive Theatre, a small little troupe that’s using the Red Eye Theatre space in Minneapolis for its production.
Romantic love in Maine doesn’t click personally for me. My uncle, the farmer, always rated relationships with women in terms other than affection or lust. The ability to cook was high on his list, for instance, as well as a talent for maintaining a garden and helping with the butter churning. Love was all about ability.
My aunt also worked as a correspondent for a weekly newspaper and played the organ at a local church — and my uncle approved of both. One brought in a little money and the other gave her a place to go on Sunday mornings, when he usually took time off to drink a few pints with the fellas.
If you see the Swandive production on Thursday, you’ll get in free and you’ll be expected to pay what you thought the show was worth when you leave. Tickets are $15 for the final performances on Friday and Saturday.
It ain’t a Christmas show, but it does involve winter weather. Go here for details.