Short Plays By William Inge, Equity Library Theatre Chicago, at the North Lakeside Cultural Center. William Inge may be best known for his 1955 Broadway hit Bus Stop, but the sweeping range of his abilities is well represented in this sampling of his work: seven short plays selected by Equity Library Theatre Chicago. Memory of Summer offers the tragic delusions of a middle-aged woman hoping to escape the drudgery of home; Judy Blue gives Viola's sadness a childlike enthusiasm alternating with a desperate sensuality. A Social Event best exemplifies Inge's comic talent, as two up-and-coming actresses try to finagle invitations to the big occasion of the Hollywood season, a star's funeral; Karyn Lynn Dale and Malina Linkas entertainingly whine and cajole their way into the affair.
The aptly named The Tiny Closet is the evening's brightest moment, however. A wonderful tragicomedy directed by Linnea Todd, the play tells of a man deemed "peculiar" by his nosy landlady. R. John Roberts's prim, controlled Mr. Newbold is a careful contrast to Nancy Nickel's talkative, dour Mrs. Crosby, who's amusingly paired with Lucinda Underwood as a second landlady in fuzzy slippers who's appropriately disapproving. But unfortunately this segment is the only one not hindered by the constricted spaces of the old mansion that represents the North Lakeside Cultural Center. For the other plays, the audience members are left to carry their chairs and crane their necks as best they can to take in the action.