‘Like Sex and the City but in a small town’

Almost Maine explores love from first poke to bitter joke

Almost Maine is a play about love plain and simple. And it will have you falling in love too… or so hopes the cast. “It’s kind of like Sex and the City but in a small town” says cast member Cheryl Olson of the Jeezum Crow Theatre production. Minus the sex and vulgarity mind you — Almost Maine is billed as suitable for all ages.

Nine separate little stories about couples finding first love experiencing old love knowing the giddiness of new love and the bittersweet taste of falling out of love make up the show. “It makes audiences look at love in nine different ways” says Jonathan Purvis.

Olson and Purvis along with Cam Ascroft and Karen Johnson-Diamond portray almost 20 characters throughout the nearly two-hour show. Scenarios include someone in a new relationship who runs into an ex someone who has gone to the brink and is ready to break up and someone who has never been shown what real love can be like. “Every audience member has been through one of those different stories” says Olson.

Jeezum Crow is a collective the four actors formed for the purpose of staging this production. They first encountered Almost Maine in Edmonton while touring a kids show last season. “By intermission we were saying we should bring this to Calgary. By the end of the show we decided we would” laughs Purvis. “It has feel-good quirky writing you don’t see so often anymore.”

Almost Maine is the first play by John Cariani an actor best known for his role as CSU tech Julian Beck on Law and Order . He partially based the play on his experiences growing up in northern Maine.

Though love is an ethereal and mysterious subject Purvis says writing the play often took an unexpectedly literal tone. For example “love” is sometimes portrayed as an actual physical object. “You can actually grasp love in the play. It becomes an inanimate object that you can reach out and touch” says Purvis. “To have something onstage that you can grasp — ‘this is love this is my broken heart right here’ — something that the audience can see literally it carries so much weight that way. Love is all around us all the time. It can be found in different ways than we think.”

“If there’s a cynic in the audience maybe somebody can leave the show feeling a little more hopeful” adds Olson.

“Especially in June it’s wonderful to just sit back and watch some good old romantic theatre” says Purvis.