Mariah Larocque as Maude and Blake Wright as Jeremy in a scene from the Deertrees Theatre production of “Fortune.” David Percival photo

Deertrees Theatre in Harrison first opened its doors 83 years ago last Thursday. The charming theater is keeping up the summer stock tradition with the New England premiere of Deborah Zoe Laufer’s “Fortune.” Friday’s matinee performance was as picture-perfect as the theater’s hemlock Adirondack-style structure and countryside location.

The two-person play stars University of Southern Maine students Mariah Larocque as Maude and Blake Wright as Jeremy. Both are charismatic and a pure joy to watch as the destiny-defying characters. Wright is delightfully hopeless and Larocque showcases her versatility as a character who is uncomfortable in her own skin.

“Fortune” is co-directed by Deertrees’ Artistic Director Andrew Harris and Daniel Burson. Burson stepped in to assist Harris, who has been valiantly battling health issues since early May. The resulting production is full of heart.

It is a modern-day play set in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Set designer Craig Robinson personalizes the big city location with an intimate rendering of Maude’s parlor that speaks volumes about her wonderfully quirky personality. The set is as cluttered and intriguing as the inner workings of Maude’s mind.

The play is a love story with a psychic twist. Convinced that he is destined to be alone, Jeremy seeks out the advice of a fortune teller to confirm his unfortunate fate. Little does he know that the fortune teller, Maude, is at a crossroads herself. Can two people pre-destined to unhappiness find love?

It’s a sweet, funny and relatable story delivered by two performers who know how to charm an audience. Wright makes his character irresistible, all the while portraying a buttoned-up certified public accountant who believes he’s unlikeable. The expressive actor performs with a vivaciousness that is made even more vibrant by his pairing with the animated Larocque as Maude. The couple have good chemistry and a knack for getting the audience to fall in love with their idiosyncratic characters.

Wright and Larocque deliver the nearly two-hour, two-act production with ease and a naturalness that draws the audience in. As the story unfolds and the characters’ relationship grows, so does the audience’s love for the characters.

“Fortune” is a spirited labor of love that is as charming and endearing as Deertrees Theatre. If you miss seeing the final performance on Aug. 23, check it out when it transitions to the University of Southern Maine. It reopens at Russell Hall on the Gorham campus on Sept. 6 and runs through Sept. 8.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ahboyle

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