Give `em an Inge. . . and they'll take four more.
Off-Broadway's Willow Cabin Theatre Company will offer five one-acts by William Inge, the playwright best known for Bus Stop and the Pulitzer-winning Picnic. Opening May 4 at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, "Bus Riley & Co.: Five Short Plays By William Inge" will consist of The Boy in the Basement, The Tiny Closet, Memory of Summer, The Mall, and Bus Riley's Back In Town.
Inge, who often sublimated his homosexual themes in his commercial plays, deals more directly with gayness in these one-acts, which also feature typical Inge themes of young love and the allure of physical beauty.
In The Boys in the Basement, a son's homosexuality is publicly exposed, which doesn't sit well with his mom.
Privacy is also at issue in The Tiny Closet, wherein tenants suspect a rooming house boarder of being a Communist and a queer. Memory of Summer concerns a woman's fear of losing her youth and winding up alone, while Bus Riley's Back In Town shows prejudice destroying the love between a couple in a small Texas town.
Perhaps the most experimental piece is The Mall, which has slice of-life vignettes at a seaside vignettes.
Willow Cabin co-founder Larry Gleason directs the quintet of dramas, which star Cynthia Besteman, John Billeci, Stephanie Elliot, Ken Forman, Robert Harte, Jeanne Hime, Charmaine Lord, Angela Nevard, Charlotte Northeast [sic], Joe Pacheco, Christine Radman, Jed Sexton, Danny Talisman, Robert Tennenhouse and Joel Van Liew. Designing the show are Klara Zieglorova (set), Nan Young (costumes) and Matthew McCarthy (lighting).
Now in its 11th season, Willow Cabin has made a specialty of grouping one-acts into a thematic evening, such as their recent Tennessee Williams double bill and Wilder, Wilder, Wilder, which made it all the way from Off-Off-Broadway to Circle in the Square.
For tickets ($15) and information on Bus Riley & Co., which started previews May 1 for a run through May 24, call (212) 886-1889.
-- By David Lefkowitz