What is love?
That's an age-old question that most everyone thinks about, said Park City drama instructor D'Arcy Benincosa.
"If you ask 10 different people, they'll all tell you something different," Benincosa said during an interview with The Park Record. "That's kind of crazy to me, because love is such a big thing in our lives."
That's what attracted her to the John Cariani's play "Almost, Maine," which will be performed by the Park City High School drama department from Thursday, April 4, through Saturday, April 6.
Benincosa liked that the 90-minute play consisted of short, 10-minute vignettes, involving two to three people.
"I was attracted to the fact that it deals with issues that each of us, as we have gotten older, have dealt with in our own relationships," she said. "Each person in the play has a different story to tell, and they all kind of get at little connected at the end."
The work, which premiered off Broadway in 2006, examines all the different aspects of love.
"It covers the newness of it when you tell someone you love them for the first time, and it also covers when you break up with somebody or when you get a divorce," Benincosa said. "It goes through all those things that human beings try to maneuver their way through within their lives."
Benincosa was also drawn to the project because "Almost, Maine," is relatively unknown.
"I love introducing people to different types of theatre, and I don't like doing something that's predictable," she said. "This is a very unpredictable play for a high school to do. It's really abstract, which gave us leeway to become very creative.
"With this play, we have an abstract place to talk about love, because I think we, as people, tend to think of love in a concrete way," Benincosa explained. "We don't think about what a literal broken heart looks like and we don't think about the love we give someone as a tangible thing, but this play makes it tangible."
During the play, these things become objects.
"In one scene, a girl gives back in bags all the love her boyfriend has given to her, because she's done with them, and in another, people repair a broken heart," Benincosa said.
"Almost, Maine," was one of 20 plays Benincosa read over the winter, and it was the only one that resonated with her.
"It was the one play that I read in an hour and a half and didn't put it down," she said. "It was also the only one I stayed up to read.
"As I read it, I thought, 'These are valuable conversations, and this is stuff about love that I haven't thought about in a while, but I like thinking about,'" she said. "And then I said, 'OK, I can do this.'"
"Almost, Maine" is a drastic change from last year's farce, "Lend Me a Tenor."
"That was one of the best productions that I had ever been a part of," Benincosa said. "It was so funny and got amazing reviews by all the people who saw it."
Of course, her students wanted to do something funny again.
"That would have been the worst thing to do, because we would be competing with the last one," Benincosa explained. "I wanted to go in a complete opposite direction."
While 'Lend Me a Tenor' was straight-laced, quick and funny, 'Almost Maine' is more thought provoking, which made it a challenge to produce.
"I have been asked about why I'm presenting this play on a high school level," she said. "I think adults look at high school kids and think that these students will grow into love, or that love is something they are not familiar with, or that they may also feel uncomfortable that 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds actually have big feelings about love.
"The truth is, these kids' beliefs about love are learned from their parents, so it's been challenging to put the production in a way that will make people want to come see it," Benincosa said. "This production will make you think, and you can sit and watch 'Almost, Maine,' over and over again and think of the different ways you treat people or what others might think about love."
"Almost, Maine," April 4 through April 6, at 7 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on April 6. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets are available at Park City High School, 1750 Kearns Blvd. For more information, call Phone: 435-645-5650.