“Almost, Maine”: Student thespians model maturity impeccably

Fiona Lacroix '22, Page Editor

Settling into the plush seats of an auditorium for a high school play presents a mixed bag of emotions. There’s excitement to see friends perform, but also, the slight angst that the show could be horrifically awkward. There are few plays that manage to escape that, and South’s production of “Almost, Maine” by John Cariani is one of them.

The play is composed of nine scenes with new characters present in each, all living in the town of Almost, Maine, navigating love and loss. Their simultaneous stories all close with the northern lights, something beautifully articulated by South’s production crew. There are layers of dramatic irony, metaphor, and humor stitched into each love story. That irony could be hilarious in one scene, but honestly, spread too thick in another.

A scene that executes Cariani’s dramatic wit wonderfully is the fourth: “Getting it Back.” Acted by Sage Porter ’24 as Gayle and Lukas Baer ‘22 as Lendal, it was such fun to watch. Gayle asks for all of her love back, thinking her long-term boyfriend will never propose. On stage, all he brings out is a tiny, red bag. Gayle is horrified to see that’s all she gave him, but the bag really holds an engagement ring. Despite being students, the acting felt real, intimate, and honest.

Cariani loves a bold, confusing line. Mixed throughout the show are lines like, “(My date’s) face broke,” or “(My) heart broke into 19 pieces. Slate.” The lines are supposed to hook the audience, and South’s actors presented them perfectly, but the cringe of some ironic lines didn’t reel the audience in, it instead repelled.

The success of “Almost, Maine” comes once the cringey metaphors have passed, in the intimate moments that follow. Performances like Erin Steinhauser ’22 and Lilly Hunwick’s ’23, which tell the story of two friends falling in love, was a thrill to view. Same for “Where it Went,” a scene portraying a couple’s fizzling romance. Ethan Harr ’22 and Gabby Duso ’23 acted well beyond their years. Even the crew shined, with their delivery of a shoe from the sky, mid scene.

The work of South’s thespians was a joy to view, as well as the beautiful settings and digital effects laced through the show. Any pitfalls are due to Cariani’s writing, but he equally deserves the laughs and joy from the audience. “Almost, Maine” was the perfect medium to relay the talents and maturity of student actors at Grosse Pointe South, and was well worth watching.