The predominant theme in Almost, Maine is love, which is one of the primary tools playwright John Cariani uses to connect the seemingly disparate scenes. Although most of the characters appear only briefly, they are primarily concerned with matters of the heart. Throughout the play, Cariani finds different ways to explore this theme. The scenes “They Fell” and “Seeing the Thing” are built upon similar premises: love sneaking up on characters that have had a long personal relationship as friends. In both, one character is more open about the desire to escalate from friendship to romantic partnership while the other initially resists this change. In both cases, the reluctant one comes around to this newly discovered attraction.
The theme is explored differently in “Story of Hope” and “Where It Went.” In these scenes, lovers find themselves separated without the potential for reuniting. “Where It Went” is arguably Cariani’s darkest take on romance because the author offers no evidence of the couple’s happiness. In contrast, “Story of Hope” makes it very clear that Daniel and Hope were once very much in love. In fact, the chance for reconnection seems likely until the audience discovers that Daniel has married Suzette.
Cariani’s other recurring motif is fantasy, usually in the physicalization of emotions or ideas. This is established in the Prologue when Ginette begins her journey around the world to get closer to Pete. When she returns to Pete in the Epilogue, it is clear that love has bent the laws of time and space. In “Her Heart,” Glory’s broken heart turns into slate pieces she carries around in her bag. “Getting It Back” revolves around the physical manifestation of love—in this case, large, heavy bags. “This Hurts” centers on Steve’s fantastical medical condition that renders him impervious to pain. Once pain is equated to love, Steve’s attraction to Marvalyn cures him. Daniel’s...
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