It’s always a win for me when I get to review a play that I think possesses the qualities of a quintessential Fringe festival production. Wolverine Theatre Company’s show, Almost Maine, is exactly that: a simple, well-acted piece that takes place in the frosty chill of St. Vlad’s Theatre, but does a lot to warm the heart.
A series of two-hander vignettes that all take place in a tiny, non-town called Almost, the piece is a straight, to the point exploration of love in all its guises. The scenes work as individual stories, but some make reference to characters from other sections, which rounds out the world of the play in a truly great way. I think there’s something to be said about the strong sense of place this piece has that often gets overlooked in other works.
With a talented bunch of fresh faced actors, Jerald Schweibert has directed some really clean and effortless scenes that make the stories flow smoothly. I’m a stickler for sincerity in line delivery and the cast of Almost Maine really had me (and the rest of the audience) eating out of the palm of their hands. For a whimsical play about the sappy topic of love, there were quite a lot of men in the audience who spent a good chunk of the show laughing –the full-bellied authentic kind, too.
The costumes were also great, consisting of a lot of snow suits, flannel and furry ear-flap hats, which only enriched the production’s atmosphere. The only thing that might’ve struck me as unnecessary was that the transitions between scenes required a full curtain close. I’m just wondering if there was a faster or less obtrusive way of doing the scene changes, although they were by no means slow and this didn’t really bother me. I just figure, with the time constraints of Fringe, this seems a potential time stealer.
To be honest, I picked up this show because I needed a sixth piece to review. I vaguely scanned the premise, but the biggest draw was that it fit into my schedule. I was absolutely more than pleasantly surprised with what I saw.
Sometimes theatre, especially at Fringe, can try and outdo itself with complicated themes and agendas. Sometimes big ideas get too bloated and pretension takes over. Sometimes it’s nice to see a piece that can pair a simple, clean and accessible structure with engaging acting without being too heavy handed. Theatre is, after all, also entertainment. It’s these traits that make me think it’s the best example of a Fringe piece.
If you believe in love, or aren’t afraid to feel warm and fuzzy, please go show the folks of Wolverine Theatre Company some affection, won’t you?
Almost Maine is playing at St. Vlad’s Theatre (620 Spadina Ave.).
July 09 06:45 PM
July 10 09:30 PM
July 12 06:15 PM
July 13 01:45 PM
- Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
- Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) are available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W).
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows