Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sad Drinks Free, Glad Pays

Short of being wooed myself, what better use of my time than nine little stories about love?

That taking them in required a drive down soul-sucking I-95 was only a minor inconvenience since He-Who-Just-Gave-His-Girlfriend-A-Ring did the driving, although he also showed up without cash, leaving me to foot the minuscule bill for our intermission desserts.

On the other hand, he, a talented photographer, was good enough to snap photos of me afterward in front of rushing Swift Creek and the measuring marker in the water.

Mid-pose, I heard my name called, only to see a woman I worked with 15 years ago, whom he quickly pulled over for more watery pictures.

Swift Creek Mill Theater's production of "Almost, Maine" was introduced by the artistic director as including, "Live! On stage today...the Aurora Borealis!" followed by a corny joke about what a bitch it had been to wrangle the star cluster's agent into letting it appear.

On the plus side, each scene ended with a projection of the splendor of the Northern Lights appearing on the back of an empty stage to punctuate the romance or heartbreak.

Ideal for those short on attention spans (although the crowd was the usual mostly blue hairs), the play presented nine vignettes that were imagined to have happened around 9:00 on a cold winter evening in Almost, Maine - not a city or town, but part of Maine's "unorganized territories," a term I'd never even heard before, but which apparently still exist in under-populated states.

Thank goodness I can go to the theater for well-acted love stories and walk away with a minor civics lesson.

Even better was how frequently a vignette would end and one or the other of us would say to the other, "Boy, that was clever!"

The play was full of whimsy - a woman carried the pieces of her broken heart in a bag; the "other shoe" literally falling from the sky when a husband and wife acknowledge their relationship is kaput; a guy who falls to the ground repeatedly when he falls in love - but at its most appealing when someone spontaneously kissed someone who wasn't expecting it (I can attest, this has been known to happen) or blurted out "I love you" to a stranger ("We call that a very warm Maine welcome").

Some scenes were downright poignant, like when a guy runs into his ex at a bar where sad people drink for free and says, "Driving away a girl like you makes me a villain, so I marked myself as a punishment."

Only problem is he misspelled "villain" as "villian" when he tattooed it on his arm and he's about to find out that the empathetic waitress' name is - wait for it - Villian.

Even sadder was one where a woman, Hope, returned via taxi from Bangor years later to finally accept the marriage proposal her former boyfriend had extended the night before she left for college.

Because she doesn't immediately recognize him, he's able to expound on the hurt of dashed hopes in a sadly dispassionate manner that only adds to her loss.

In one particularly literal vignette, a woman shows up returning all the love her boyfriend had given her, dumping brightly-colored bags of it on the floor and demanding, "All the love I gave you? I want it back!"

You can do that? Now there's a concept I never even considered.

There were lots of awkward relationship conversations just like in real life and just as many sight gags by the time the play ended with the same couple with whom it had begun.

The surprise was that she'd gone the distance for love, only to come right back to him, making the playwright's message pretty clear. Kiss often, love freely and confess your heart when you must, even when it's not answered.

And forget that business of finding the other half of your heart. It's all about compatible eccentricities. No, really.

Bottom line? Love, actually, is a combination of misfires and bull's eyes. So shoot already.

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