Almost, Maine Summary

John Cariani

Almost, Maine

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Almost, Maine Summary

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Almost, Maine is a play by John Cariani that is comprised of nine shorter plays. It deals with themes of love and loss in a small Maine town named Almost. It premiered in 2004 to critical acclaim.

The play is a story of love and the way it hurts and heals the people of in a small town so far north in the USA that it’s “almost” Canada. It features a multitude of characters, but a curious format. Each scene is a separate vignette and none of the characters appear again. The prologue and epilogue feature the same characters, but they do not appear in any of the vignettes.

In the prologue, Pete and Ginette have been dating for a while. They are both shy and awkward. They are unable to communicate their love for one another.  However, eventually one of them decides to make the leap into the great unknown of love. Ginette tells Pete that she loves him, but the scene ends with her walking away to his dismay.

In “Her Heart” Gloria is looking for a place to camp while on the way to pay respects to her dead husband. She ends up in the yard of East, who is a repairman. She gives him a bag full of the pieces of her broken heart and he promises to put them back together for her. He repairs her heart and they see the Northern lights.

In “Sad and Glad”, Jimmy finds out that his former girlfriend Sandrine is getting married. During her bachelorette party, they run into each other at a cafe. She sees a tattoo on him, and he explains that it was supposed to say “villain” but he accidentally spelled it “villian.” He says it is to remind him of all the pain he went through when he lost her by being an awful boyfriend. In the end, we find out that his waitress’s name is Villian. When Jimmy realizes this, he is filled with hope.

In “This Hurts”, Steve is a man unable to feel pain. When a woman Marvalyn accidentally hits him in the head with an ironing board, he writes down that it’s supposed to feel painful. As their conversation progresses, we find out that she is romantically involved with someone, but she eventually kisses Steve. Upon leaving, she hits him again with the ironing board and he feels pain. They look at each other, uncertain of what their future holds.

In “Getting It Back”, Gayle and Lendall have ended their relationship. Gayle decides to return all the love Lendall gave her in the form of bags and bags of red. When she asks for her love back, Lendall returns with a ring saying that it was all the love she’d given him over the years and it was time.

In “They Fell”, Chad and Randy are two guys sitting and talking about life. They come to the realization that they are more than just friends—they love each other. Every time they stand they fall over to symbolize the surprise of falling in love.

In “Where It Went”, Phil and Marci are ice skating but they are unable to find Marci’s other shoe when they are finished. They realize that something has been missing from their relationship for a while. As they wish upon a star the shoe falls from the sky. She gets in her car and drives away.

In “Story of Hope”, a woman appears in the middle of the night at a man’s house. She is looking for someone who asked her to marry him a long time ago. She disappeared without ever answering. Turns out he’s married now, but he’s shrunk to half his size after he lost all his hope. They share a few moments, and she leaves, whispering “yes” when he can’t hear.

In “Seeing the Thing”, Dave paints Rhonda a picture but she is unable to see it. When she finally gives in and kisses Dave, she is able to see it. When Dave reenters her house he puts the painting on the chair and the audience can see that that the picture is a simple red heart.

In the wordless epilogue, Ginette returns from the other side of the world (the stage) and she and Peter stand together as it starts to snow.

The main theme of the play is, of course, love. The characters experience the happiness, heartbreak, and bittersweet moments of love as physical markers. Red bags, heart paintings, a missing shoe—every object in the play is a physical representation of the choices the characters are making when it comes to love.

The play is fantastical as things that shouldn’t happen very obviously do. Love cannot manifest as a diamond ring, and yet it does. A person doesn’t shrink physically from lack of hope, but a man does in this play. These things are visual reminders of how love can make us feel.