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Clemson Players’ performance of ‘Almost, Maine’ gives audience a new perspective on love

I came out of the theatre in awe, reveling in the fact that John Cariani’s story made me think about love from a completely new perspective. This play was brilliantly complex and coupled comedic relief and symbolism that the whole audience could relate to. This production interconnected the lives of a couple of residents from the small, kind-of town of Almost, Maine by navigating their romantic relationships and the highs and lows of falling in love.
This play was full of contradicting emotions that surprisingly made me feel intrigued rather than confused and annoyed. It made spoofs out of commonly used clichés and made the audience apply them to a broader, more enlightening meaning. It was playfully fictional yet brutally realistic, it was sensitive yet irreverent. The script captured the multiple dimensions that are included with the act of falling in love.
The Clemson Players did a wonderful job of capturing the raw side effect emotions of love. The biggest difference between movies on screen and real life theater is the live give and take exchange actors have with their audience. The Bellamy Theatre acts upon this emotion even more. Since it is such a confined space, you almost feel like you are on stage with the actors. It made each actor’s performance that much more impassioned. Kacey Blair and Adrian Baynard did a wonderful job of this by telling the story of a couple who had reached their breaking point. Their hysteric screaming match really depicted the toll a broken relationship can yield on those impacted.
My favorite scene was called “Seeing the Thing,” where actors Sims Hall and Skyler Tipton did a remarkable job of capturing the fear and innocence that we all experience before beginning a new relationship. Hall played Rhonda, a “hung up” tomboy who thought she was unlovable while Tipton played the confident Dave who gave Rhonda a painting and asked her to tell him what it was. At first, Rhonda does not recognize the painting, which symbolizes love because it is an emotion she’s never felt before. After she begins to fall for Dave, she also begins to identify each stroke in the painting. It may take longer for one to fall in love if it is an emotion they’ve never felt before because it is harder for them to identify it. This doesn’t mean that this love could be any less true or forgiving, but just means it may take longer to get there.
This is the second performance I have attended by the Clemson Players in the Bellamy Theatre this year and I have not been disappointed yet. I strongly recommend going out to see this extremely talented group of artists perform. This production made me see the ins and outs of falling in love in a whole new way. It intertwined comedy with the concept that falling in love is a hard reality; it is scary and confusing and awkward, but above all, worth it.

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