Randy and Chad are sitting down together, pulling pop-tops, swigging beer, crushing cans.
And comparing notes.
“She said she didn’t like the way I smelled,” Chad says. Can his buddy top that?
It turns out Randy can. He was dancing with a woman, dropped her on her face, and had to take her to the hospital. She wanted her old boyfriend to take her home, not Randy. So he wins the informal, worst-date-ever competition.
Welcome to “Almost, Maine,” a wintry little place in the cold, frosty North where the elation, heartbreak, and poignancy of love plays out in a series of vignettes under the Northern Lights.
The play will open the theater season this week at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, on a set designed to make audience members feel as if they’re peering through the orb of a snow globe into a remote and rustic place.
Student designer Amy Brown of West Wyoming said she didn’t have to look far for inspiration. “Around here, we’re surrounded by piney woods and mountains.”
The snow globe effect will enhance the otherworldly qualities playwright John Cariani injected into “Almost, Maine,” director Dave Reynolds said, pointing out something “magical” crops up in every scene.
Here a young wanderer returns, knocking on a door, desperate to finally answer the question a man asked before she left. He’s been waiting a long time to hear her answer to his marriage proposal, and while his hope has diminished, his appearance has changed as well.
Then there’s all the stumbling, the collapsing, the strange force that sends Chad sprawling. He can’t help it, he tells Randy. Literally, he’s falling in love – with Randy.
The way the script is written, Reynolds said during an early rehearsal, Chad and Randy’s love could be romantic or platonic.
“It’s pretty vague,” agreed Jarred Stagen, who portrays Chad, as he and Kyle McCormack, who portrays Randy, discussed how they wanted to play it.
All the characters in Cariani’s play have a simple, small-town honesty, Reynolds said. “They remind me of ‘Northern Exposure,’ but they’re not as quirky.”