If there was ever a week that needed to end with some laughter and light, it has been this one. The AVPA Blurred Vision Theater’s production of “Almost, Maine” is an ideal antidote to the blues. A series of charming short scenes, by John Cariani, the sweet and brilliant subtext of concrete wordplay was so witty and so well done, I laughed at almost every sketch. Like a series of interlocking short stories, the characters all inhabit the same place, and they know each other, but each vignette is independent. With the simple sets and costumes, it’s an ideal play for a high school production, and the AVPA turned some of their best talent on it.
Dressing for winter in Maine on an evening when it was 80 degrees in Culver City might have been challenging, but I did not see any one of these fine performers break a sweat. While the Northern Lights shine down, everyone is affected in some magical way by that most magic of all human interactions, romantic love. From Pete (Owen Jones) and Ginette (Izzy Parra) sitting on a snow crusted bench discussing geometry and geography to the tough but innocent Rhonda (Carly Shiever) attempting to see what it is in the painting her co-worker and sledding buddy Dave (Evan Wasser) has brought her, small, gentle and determined declarations of love are everywhere.
Every sketch had some some pun as the key point – someone physically falling as an illustration of falling love – each more surprisingly witty than than the last. With eighteen kids in the cast (only Sarah Toutounchian played in two sketches) there was ample space in “Almost, Maine” to get everyone connected.
“Almost, Maine” will run this weekend only at the Ivy Substation, 9070 Venice Blvd. Culver City 90232. Performances are November 11 & 12 at 8 pm, and November 13th at 1 pm. Tickets are $10, ASB student discount $5, available at the door.