Not since the infamous one-man show The Centering (about a prisoner who avoids the pain of his confinement by "escaping to the only refuge available: the circus clown within his mind") have I found a local theatrical production so utterly, completely baffling. Almost, Maine suffers from a surfeit of sincerity so pronounced that it can't help but induce screeching cognitive dissonance in any audience member with even a partially developed sense of irony.

Overstatement? Oh, no.

Almost, Maine is a collection of scenes set in one small Maine town, with each vignette focusing on a romantic relationship.

In one scene, a woman named Hope shows up on the doorstep of her college boyfriend, believing that he might have been waiting for her to come back to him—only to find that in her absence he married someone else because he, ahem, "lost a lot of hope." In another scene, a girl meets a boy who thinks he suffers from a nerve disorder wherein he can't feel pain (or, by a nonsensical extension typical of this production, love). But when she accidentally hits him in the head with an ironing board, he, in a moment of inanity unparalleled by any in my years of Portland theater-going experience, gazes up at her and says, "Ouch." (Get it? she teaches him how to feel.) And then there's the scene in which two ice fisherman fall in love—literally fall, on the ground, over and over, as they try and fail to reach one another, because god forbid two men be allowed to have a moment of the sort of intimacy that is permitted to every single straight pairing in the show (i.e., gratuitous make-out scenes, of which this show has a crapload).

The ensemble's standouts are Brooke Totman and Les Peck, whose characters would be likeable if it weren't for the incredibly annoying things they keep saying. It's very, very difficult to look past this script to any other aspects of the show, however; Almost, Maine is a hackneyed muddle of overused metaphors and trite sentimentality masquerading as magical realism, and everyone involved bears some responsibility.