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Fall Play Review

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On Wednesday, Oct. 18,  John W. North High School’s Harlequins presented “Almost, Maine” by John Cariani. As well as putting on four shows in the North theater on Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday at 3:30 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., the cast and crew also presented pieces of the production for different classes on Wednesday during school as a final rehearsal.

The show is set at 9 p.m. on a cold winter night in a small nonexistent town in Maine. The play is split into nine stories about people finding and losing love. These vignettes take place when most people are out trying to keep their love alive or killing it for good. Some realize they are in love, who they love or that they are not in love at all.

“‘Almost Maine’ was cool. There were a lot of plot twists and it had me on the edge of my seat the whole time … it was hard to follow at first but I enjoyed it through and through,” said sophomore Xavier Gonzalez.  

In one vignette, “Getting It Back,” Gayle, played by  junior K’zhane McGill, angrily barges into the house of her boyfriend Lendall, played by senior Ahmir King. She demands that he give her back all the love she ever gave him and she takes back the love he gave her. In the scene the intangible idea of love was transformed into a physical thing that was stuffed into bags and literally given and taken. This put the idea of love into simpler and more understandable terms by making it visible.

The acting took the audience into a new place in this scene. Both McGill and King truly became their characters and were able to portray who that person was and what the motives were behind their actions. Both of the actors’ movements and lines made sense to the audience. Gayle’s anger over the status of her relationship made the audience begin to think about their own relationships. Her reason for ending her relationship was very relatable and well portrayed. King also did a great job of taking on the role of Lendall and becoming a man in love. The actors worked together well and caused the audience to feel the emotions with the characters.

“It brought emotions you can’t really see in movies. It’s not recorded, it’s out in the open. The scene with the gay characters really made me happy. It’s 2017 and love is love. You can’t really judge someone for who they love. It just had me breath-taken. There are so many different types of people on this earth and this play really showed that no matter what, you love who you love at the end of the day,” said sophomore Ailin Morales.

The scene “They Fell” begins with two men named Randy and Chad, played by seniors Shawn Schive and Jose Gonzalez, sharing horror stories of the dates they’ve just had when Chad realizes that he is in love with Randy. After confessing this love he literally falls to the floor, in love. This is meant to convey the message that people can’t really help falling in love. Even Randy tries to deny how he feels for Chad until he falls too. Schive and Gonzalez worked extremely well in the scene together, as if they were actually best friends. They were believable as two people who truly care for each other.

“Almost, Maine” brought some controversial and risky things to the surface in a very comedic way while still preserving the seriousness of the situation. Since it’s unrealistic that two people can physically fall because they are in love, it lightens the tension of what’s happening.

“The concept of [‘Almost Maine’] was very original and very cute … I’ve never seen anything like it before. I wish it was real, giving and taking love, literally falling for someone…[In ‘They Fell’] the author was speaking up about equality within the community. The characters weren’t made fun of. They were in a simple situation that a straight couple would have been in. I was really happy to see this inclusion. As an ally, it’s amazing to see people accepting the fact that the LGBTQ community exists and that it’s a normal thing,” said junior Jazmin Betancourt.

This concept was recognized by many students and they appreciated the fact that these topics were addressed. It brought in LGBTQ awareness which is a big topic in America today. It was important that the production represented different relationships. Even showing relationships in different stages is important and relatable to many of the viewers. Whether it’s beginning a relationship or ending one, many of the audience members could understand how it feels.

“I loved it. It was a great play [and was] very emotional. I felt the emotions from the actors. Everything was very relatable. The first scene, [Her Heart,] stood out to me the most. I was in tears from the very beginning, I don’t know what got into me. All the actors were tearing me apart. It was so heartfelt,” said junior Nascia McClain.

Although love is seen to be exciting and new in some of the other scenes, in “Where It Went” the couple Phil, played by senior Dominic Jackson, and Marci, played by junior Veronica Driscoll, show a version of love that is fading. It was by far the most gut-wrenching scene. Jackson and Driscoll had the audience in tears. It was amazing how two teengaers who have obviously never been married can perfectly portray the heartbreak of ending a marriage.

“I love the symbolism and the relationships. What got to me the most was that it wasn’t just showing love, it was also showing heartbreak and gave the audience real life situations with real life people,” said junior Juliana Manzano.

The thought of a relationship is fresh and very present in the minds of most teenagers. Many teens long to be in relationships but they sometimes overlook the reality of what it means to be in love. The show presented a very personal and real depiction of love, not just the romantic parts.

However “Almost, Maine” wasn’t just about showing serious situations. It was also very funny and drew the audience in and had them waiting for what was to come.

In the scene “This Hurts,” the character Marvalyn, played by junior Hannah Terao, teaches Steve, played by senior Tobias Bilicic, how to feel. Steve has a deficiency that doesn’t allow him to feel pain. Despite his being a little odd and Marvalyn having a boyfriend, she kisses him and after the kiss he can suddenly feel pain. It’s almost a fairytale ending that one kiss could change him. Bilicic did an excellent job of bringing the flaws of his character to life. He perfectly exemplified a person who is odd but extremely lovable. Terao was perfect for bringing out the beauty in him and showing him how complicated and magical love is.

Overall “Almost Maine” was an amazingly heartfelt play that touched the audience members. The whole cast realistically portrayed the story line and brought the emotions of the script onto the stage. Whether the audience was laughing or crying, annoyed or on the edge of their seats, the acting and direction of the cast and crew made the show extremely enjoyable.

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Fall Play Review