According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"Almost, Maine," by Matt Windman

In his first play, John Cariani (Tony-nominated actor for his portrayal of Motel the tailor in "Fiddler on the Roof") invents a playful image of a romantic utopia in the community of Almost, Maine. Gabriel Barrie’s direction brings a smart style to production, which takes place on a spare, surreal nighttime setting and uses light pop music.

Though Cariani’s collection of skits does not add up to the sum of their parts, his enthusiastic romanticism is catchy and creative. This would probably make a perfect date show for both young and old couples. If you’re in love, you’ll like it; if you're a cynic, you probably won't buy into it. The show may have been more effective at an intermissionless 90 minutes, rather than at a dragging 2 hours, 15 minutes with an intermission.

Still, in spite of what might be interpreted as cloying cutesiness or , there is certainly something brave and noteworthy in Cariani's optimism. I look forward to seeing his next play "Cul-de-sac," which the Transport Group will produce in the coming months.

Daryl Roth Theatre, 20 Union Square East, 212-239-6200, $26-66. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm.

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