‘Almost, Maine’ warms heartstrings at DVC


Tara Maginnis

Rio Teixeira and Rachel Kennealy embrace under a night sky on the April 1 production of “Almost, Maine” in the PAC at DVC.

Jess Parry, Staff member

“Almost, Maine,” a work of interconnected plays written by John Cariani and directed by Nicole Hess-Diestler, professor in the Theater department at Diablo Valley College, successfully dazzled another audience on Friday, April 1, in DVC’s PAC building.

After months of hard work and dedication, the actors and crew have created a remarkable and touching production that leaves the audience in bittersweet contemplation.

“Almost, Maine” deals with the complex emotions connected with falling in and out of love in a truly magical way. The mystical edge of the production is clear from the start. “Almost, Maine” is set in an entirely fictionalized town, based on a combination of places in Maine.

The residents of the town of Almost however, are ordinary and honest people, who, like most, find themselves in the throngs of love. There is an otherworldly quality to their interactions, a huge part of which is influenced by the enchanting set design, lights, and sound effects.

The events in “Almost, Maine” all occur on a Friday night around 9 p.m., in the deep winter during Aurora Borealis. Diestler, as well as set and lighting designer Drew Kaufmann, created a wonderland of snow capped trees, twinkling stars, and even the flowing Aurora Borealis itself. Snow, and sometimes a lost shoe, fell continuously onto the action during the show.

The stories of nine different relationships in Almost are woven together in nine separate vignettes, each lasting about ten minutes. This lends even further credence to the actors’ abilities, who were able to utilize a short amount of time to develop an emotional connection to the audience.

Jimmy Darling, 19 elaborated, “It’s not about any one couple, it’s about all aspects of love.”

Each vignette includes a magical metaphor or event that is grounded in reality. For example, in the first scene “Her Heart,” a woman who has recently lost her husband holds her own heart in a bag, and can’t survive without it near her. Surreal events such as these added intrigue and a physicality to the relatable feelings of love and loss.

Diestler diverts from the original play description by including the Aurora Borealis and a twinkling of bells at the climax of each vignette. This emphasized the magic of each moment, and was reminiscent of the love spells in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare.

Monica Minix, who played Gayle, a girl so conflicted in her love for her boyfriend that she attempts to return all the love he has given her, said she most enjoyed the challenge of establishing a relationship between her and her partner in such a short amount of lines and stage-time.

“We only have about ten minutes to connect,” Minix says, “instead of the entire character arc you usually get in a production.”

“Almost, Maine” leaves most of the character development to the off-stage, challenging the actors and the director to use every movement and every line to say as much as possible about the characters and their relationship.

Darian Tiner, 23, commented on how she achieves this with her acting, “I like to transform into a different person, because I can do things I wouldn’t normally do.”

The show accomplishes this and more. The actors and crew come together seamlessly to offer a magical yet relatable show that leaves your heart on your sleeve.

“Almost, Maine” has three more performances, April 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 10 at 2 p.m.

Next for DVC Drama is “Theatre outside the box: Grieving a Generation,” a piece written and directed entirely by DVC drama students, which will run from April 15 and 16.