By D. A. Blackburn
With ValentineÕs Day on the horizon, NorthvilleÕs Tipping Point Theatre offers up a production perfect for a romantic and fun-filled date. John CarianiÕs ÒAlmost, Maine,Ó which serves as the fledgling companyÕs third production of the season, is a farcical romp through northern Maine, where the residents of Almost seem to have been bombarded by CupidÕs magical arrows.
The production, which is a brisk 80-minute single act, is structured as a series of two-person vignettes, all played by a rotating cast of four.
Joseph Albright, Courtney Myers, Jeffrey J. Steger and Jennifer Lee-Steger spend the hour and ten minute play trading punch lines, falling in, and sometimes out of love, in a series of awkward but endearing skits. CarianiÕs somewhat nonsensical plotlines are refreshingly funny, and inventive.
The showÕs vignettes are tied together by a string of touching pantomimes which serve both as set changes and as a running skit featuring Mitchell A. Koory and Rakia K. Seaborn.
Though the work is predominantly about heterosexual relationships, Cariani has included a rather humorous vignette in which two straight friends discover that their lack of luck in love may have more to do with their interest in each other than with the opposite sex.
Direction by the companyÕs founder and executive director Christina Johnson is spot on, bringing the best of the scriptÕs humor out with ease.
Tipping Point has done an excellent job in making this simple work attractive, with a creative set designed by Charlie Gaidica and lighting by Rita Girardi. Susan Gaidica, mother of the scenic designer and wife of the companyÕs president, WDIV television personality Chuck Gaidica, has done an excellent job costuming each character with garments fit for the cold of a northern Maine winter. The result is a smart looking production that makes the most of the theaterÕs limited stage space.
Likewise, the showÕs sound design is excellent, utilizing original music by Julian Fleisher, which seems to suit the play to a tee.
ÒAlmost, MaineÓ premiered at the Portland Stage Company in 2004, and went on to become the companyÕs most successful run in its 32 year history. With such a playful spirit, itÕs little wonder that the work has received critical praise and numerous industry awards.
The end result is a play that is nothing but fun, and a perfect opportunity for a night out with someone special. WhatÕs more, the town of Northville — not generally thought of as a destination for serious theater fans — offers a wealth of unique dining options and a romantic Victorian charm all its own.
(FOR ÒREVIEW BOXÓ)
Tipping Point Theatre, 361 E. Cady St., Northville. Thursday-Sunday, through March 8. Tickets: $18-$35. For information: 248-347-0003 or http://www.tippingpointtheatre.org