Love is in the air in a fictional town in Maine. Its inhabitants are literally falling for each other, giving each other heaping mounds of love and mending broken hearts. I had the chance to catch the opening night of Wayward Actors’ Almost Maine, a delightfully simple series of scenes all about love. It’s the type of show that warms the heart in the middle of a dreary winter.
Neil Brewer took the reigns as director and actor for this production. When I see this type of situation in productions, I am skeptical of the end product. Has the director fairly balanced his time between creating a performance that is entertaining and engaging while wearing the hat as actor? Has he done a good job with directing himself? Well, Mr. Brewer can rest assured that he has done a fine job. He provides a strong comedic performance in the first act, during a scene with Jayme Thomas, as he portrays a man who is learning what can hurt him and what he needs to be afraid of. His appearance in the second act, as Rebecca Chaney’s long lost love, was comparatively muted and less memorable as, in comparison, it lacked a certain chemistry and longing.
Brewer’s choices as director were smart for this type of show. Using a minimal set design consisting of sparse props and an exterior of a house, Brewer keeps the audience’s attention on the acting. What I liked most about this production was the dreamy conclusion of each scene. As lovers unite or find inner strength in some cases, a pool of blue and green lights spill on the stage proving a powerful visual and lasting impression.
Highlights from the cast include Mason Stewart and Rebecca Chaney’s prologue and epilogue as a couple who expresses their love for one another for the first time. They were just tender and adorable as can be. Michael McCollum and Julie Mayfield were a couple of sweethearts in a scene titled “Her Heart,” where a woman carries around the pieces of her broken heart and McCollum tries his best to fix it. Sara E. Renauer and Mason Stewart conclude the first act as a squabbling couple determined to literally and figuratively give their love to each other. Second act kicks off with Sean Childress and Craig Nolan Highley as two men comparing notes of sad and bad dates. Little do they know that they have fallen for each other, by all definitions of the phrase. Katie Graviss and Frank Whitaker bring the evening to a close as a couple of best friends who are initially in love with each other. Graviss is a rough tomboy and Whitaker is her smitten pal who humorously and desperately attempts to woo her in this scene reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally.
Wayward Actors Company has put together an adorable romantic comedy up in the MeX Theater. The entire performance runs around two hours and each scene flies by, leaving me wanting more.
Wayward Actors Company
January 20, 21, 23, 27, and 28, 2012, at 8 pm. January 29, 2012, at 2 pm.
The MeX Theatre at the Kentucky Center for the Arts
Tim & Dair Mathistad
Katie & Chris Haulter
Kathy Todd Chaney
Angie Reed Garner