Almost, Maine by John Cariani

“Here I am at the end of the world, and I have nowhere to go, so I was counting on staying here.”

For no identifiable reason, this play stole my heart. It is everything a good play should be—witty, charming, magical, satirical, sappy—the only issue is it seems to make absolutely no sense at face-value. If you dig a little bit deeper…it still makes no sense.

Almost, Maine is a set of nine beautifully satirical vignettes that I would call “the anatomy of love” (Almost, Maine is truly a better title; this is why I don’t name things). It addresses nearly every facet of love—a rather impressive feat. It’s a whimsical work, with a weight and depth far surpassing expectations. Through the tears of laughter, one suddenly realizes that there is a dark reality to these short, seemingly comical scenes.

“Almost” is not quite a town but also not a nothing either.

EAST: You’re in unorganized territory. Township Thirteen, Range Seven. It’s not gonna be on your map, cause it’s not an actual town, technically.

GLORY: What do you mean?

EAST: See to be a town, you gotta get organized. And we never got around to getting’ organized, so…we’re just Almost.

“Almost” is a place anything can happen from love. Medical conditions can heal, hearts can literally break, love can be measured in bags, and people can shrink from the loss of love and hope. This play made me think several times of Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales and the Wizard of Oz. Except this one bit harder. There are portions that cause you to laugh until you are stopped short by the shocking realization that it is an accurate representation of the beautiful beast called love.

It is rather hard for me to put this review into words. If you are comfortable reading plays, I highly recommend this one. It is a stunningly clear commentary on the most blinding of things, a voice cutting through an unknown silence. The main reason I am unsure how to approach this review is because with most satirical works the author is trying to point out some issue that requires attention and usually some level of maintenance and repair and change. But this does not particularly feel like an attack on love. Instead, it felt like he had finally gotten to the heart of what love truly is in many regards.

“You can be hurt and be bleeding or bruised…”

Some of the downsides to this play is that it does not have an extremely specific and observable plot. The characters are lovable, though, and the scenes are poignant and thought-provoking. Certainly worth the short amount of time it takes to get through it.

One more thing: this play is difficult to find. I do not think it is available on Kindle and my library seemed to have no idea it even exists. However, there is a place online that has the full text.

“I won’t be able to love you back. I have a heart that can pump my blood and that’s all. The one that does the other stuff is broken. It doesn’t work anymore.”

Buy Almost Maine here