By George Basler

Almost, Maine takes place in a fictional Maine community near the Canadian border, where residents are seeking relief from a long, cold, dark winter.

The 2004 play, which has become a darling of regional theaters, opens Friday, June 7, for a three-weekend run at KNOW Theatre in downtown Binghamton.

“I describe it as an absurdist romantic comedy that touches on every aspect of given relationships,” said Jeff Tagliaferro, who is directing the KNOW production.

Almost, Maine is the work of actor/playwright John Cariani, who is perhaps best known for his role as Julian Beck in the television show Law and Order. He knows the territory well, having grown up in Presque Isle, Maine.

The play “lands somewhere between Norman Rockwell and Our Town. Unabashedly unhip. There is no pretense of an edge here — the show offers a sweetness and decency that’s become rare in the theater. At this point, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air,” the New York Post noted in its review of the play.

“Almost” refers to the fact that it’s not quite a town, because residents never got around to getting it organized. The action takes place in nine separate scenes, each about 10 minutes long, occurring at the same time on a frigid winter night.

 All the characters come from working class backgrounds. They include a husband and wife, a boyfriend and girlfriend, and two total strangers. All are searching for joy, love and connection, Tagliaferro said, adding. “Every scene has moments of magic.”

Four actors will play the 19 roles. Two play four roles each, one plays five roles and one plays six roles. All of the performers have appeared at KNOW Theatre before. Zachary Chastain was in The Nance and Long Day’s Journey into Night. Amelia Pena played the title role in the recently produced Becky Shaw. Eric Fernandez appeared in one-act Tennessee Williams plays,  and Kirsten Whistle was in Rabbit Hole.

Some scenes in Almost, Maine are open-ended and “don’t end with a bow on top,” leaving audience members to draw their own conclusions, Tagliaferro said. There are moments of humor, melancholy and hope as the characters fall in, and out, of love.

The New York Times called the play witty, romantic, unsentimental and beautifully structured. And, the newspaper noted, it has some nifty surprise endings.

IF YOU GO: KNOW Theatre will present Almost, Maine by John Cariani weekends from June 7 to June 23 at its theater located at 74 Carroll St. in downtown Binghamton. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m. Tickets at $25 (seniors, $20; students, $15) can be ordered through KNOW’s website There is a pay-what-you-can night June 13 at 8 p.m.

IBM is the corporate sponsor. Season sponsors are Stephen & Amy Smyk. Pay-what-you-can nights are sponsored by John Starks Jr. and Valerie Spiller.

For more information, email or Tim Gleason at