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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  3,804 ratings  ·  47 reviews
The play takes place on Labor day Weekend in the joint back yards of two middle-aged widows. The one house belongs to Flo Owens, who lives there with her two maturing daughters, Madge and Millie, and a boarder who is a spinster school teacher. The other house belongs to Helen Potts, who lives with her elderly and invalid mother. Into this female atmosphere comes a young ma ...more
Paperback, 77 pages
Published January 1st 1998 by Dramatists Play Service (first published October 1st 1953)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,804 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Probably the most "American" play I've ever read. The small town, the proper way to act, the outsider who is despicable yet irresistible: it's all here. Makes you feel so nostalgic you'll hum Souza, even though Inge is pointing out how deluded our perfect American dream lives really are. ...more
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: serious
If Tennessee Williams and Flannery O'Connor had a love child, it'd be this play. Streetcar meets Temple of the Holy Ghost. ...more
Kaila Tacazon
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really cool female characters!! We love Inge
AJ (the.booknerd.reads)
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
good dynamics between all the romantic relationships, as well as the familial aspect of Flo wanting to protect her children. decent writing, somewhat interesting plot. it'll be quite an experience to play Flo in a reader's theatre production at school ...more
Nov 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: plays
End of summer, the weekend before new school year and a fresh romance in the making.

Inge's play starts with an idyllic morning set in the shared backyard of two middle class houses that is about to be disrupted by the arrival of a young man - Hal. The seemingly perfect relationships are tested and exposed with Hal's bragging nature and inability to stick to a job. Inge's play is anything but romanticized; it in fact explores the complicated relationship the women in the play, share. Be it the s
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: play-hunt
I had the pleasure of not only reading this play multiple times this year, but also performing it for exam plays at my school this year. This is a play full of vibrant life exposed by the beautiful use of the English language by William Inge.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: plays
Easily the worst play I've ever read. This won a Pulitzer Prize for what - most asinine dialogue ever written? ...more
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Picnic is a 1953 play by William Inge. The play was premiered at the Music Box Theatre, Broadway, on 19 February 1953 in a Theatre Guild production, directed by Joshua Logan, which ran for 477 performances. The original cast featured Ralph Meeker, Eileen Heckart, Arthur O'Connell, Janice Rule, Reta Shaw, Kim Stanley and Paul Newman. Inge won the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work, and Logan received a Tony Award for Best Director. The play also won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Awar ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jessica by: peripheral WPL Wed book club
Shelves: play
I was reluctant to pick this one up on the heels of Bus Stop (which rather upset me), but I'm glad I did. Although there are still elements that could be construed as disturbing in the right light, really this seems like a much more "wholesome" play about young love and mistakes and less about predators and prey.

As a read, it's fine; quick, interesting, well-developed characters. But it's easy to see that this would shine on stage in a way that just doesn't translate via a solo reading.

I think
Jul 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
The play responsible for me quitting my job as a stage manager in college. Pointless, and completely irrelevant trash. No real expression of anything, just characters rambling on about nothing. Always hate when people jump on the bandwagon of some piece of "art" and say it's great because they've been conditioned to say it's great by other so-called experts. Then, without really analyzing it for themselves, they say it's great too and think they've become individual and thus superior to the rest ...more
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it

I had to read this play for my acting class and i absolutely LOVED IT.
It's very much character driven, which is always my favorite and the way every single woman has a different personality and is strong in their own way is just incredible.
There's obviously the touch of sexism, specially from Flo to Madge and Millie, but it was also written in 1953, so there isn't much else to be expected...
Janay Brazier
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve been meaning to read this play for so long and I’m so glad that I finally got around to it. It was a lovely, small town American play that I enjoyed reading. It took me less than two hours to read so it was a nice, quick read too. I wish I could see this on stage. I wish I’d seen the New York version starring Sebastian Stan too.
Eden Nicholls
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Southern, dramatic, fantastic, holy.
Flossmoor Public Library (IL)
5 stars

- Ms. Jenn
Aug 22, 2019 added it
“I never knew what the feeling was. Why didn’t someone tell me?”

A good play with small ambitions that is almost exclusively just about love.
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wanna play Rosemary sO bad.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read it on Labor Day. As one does. For book club. With special guest actor perspective.
Mellanie C
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this back in my early college days when I was actually in this play. I can't remember my chgaracter's name (maybe it was Irma?), but she was one of the spinster schoolteachers. ...more
Jul 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, plays
A play. Dramatic. Interesting characters.
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
4/5 read for CCSF class
Abigail Oldham
A classic; my forever favorite play.
Sadie Hillier
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I would write you a review of this play, but instead I wrote a thesis on it. And I'm almost certain that no one on Goodreads wants to read that here. ...more
Nathan Holcomb
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
After researching the author I found that he was extremely interesting and I can actually relate to him in many ways. William Inge is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and novelist. He won his Pulitzer for this 3-act play. He focuses on the struggles women had to face in the 1950s in particular. He is able to relate and empathize with women because he grew up surrounded by women. He had an absent father so he has a lot of respect for women. He was also gay, giving him an even greater understan ...more
Nov 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Thank you little Americana butter sandwich, thank you.

I am auditioning for this play. I had to look at the email twice to see that they really want me to audition for the 16-year-old younger, uglier, smarter sister, Millie. It's a great role, don't get me wrong, but... 16? I guess I did just play a 16-year-old murderer...

I was surprised how much I liked this play. I'm still not so sure why. Maybe it's the whole porch culture thing that I can very easily and viscerally relate to. That and the c
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This is our high school's fall play, so I thought I'd read the text, having previously seen the movie starring William Holden, Kim Novak, and Rosalind Russell. I couldn't imagine teens would grasp the longing and sexual tension of the characters Hal, Madge, and Rosemary, so I thought I'd see if the play was different from the movie--nope! Am I looking forward to this performance? Hesitantly, yes. We have excellent student actors and a brand new drama teacher, so this has potential to be excellen ...more
Tamara Damjanovic
Apr 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Although I found some nice topics in the drama (society repressing sexuality, strict rules of behaviour, all of it mostly being fake, of course, and thus creating unfulfilled lives), I didn't find the dialogues deep enough to dig into the characters and their relations in a more interesting way, although there was a lot of potential...
And also I couldn't believe some of their actions (Howard marrying Rosemary after what happened the night before, Madge's departure etc...) - I felt like Inge want
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
This play would be so fun to direct! Nuanced female roles. Maybe I enjoyed reading it so much because it explores themes I'm currently pondering.... like the nature of beauty, what it gets you and where it leaves you. My only criticism is, sometimes the characters' motivations seem quixotic. I mean, really, would any woman marry a man who said to her, after she asks him, “Well—you got to give me time to think it over.” !! I guess that's desperation for you. Anyway, this is such a very insightful ...more
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: playfull
I love this. If only for Rosemary's scenes and the different approaches to marriage the whole way through. I don't know why I'm inclined to think Alan is secretly a jerk... I think it's because I really don't think the two should have been together so I'm just on Madge's side. Who knows. I'd love to break this deceptively simple play down sometime. Fantastic woman personalities. We never go to the picnic. ...more
Aug 10, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama
I like the characterization and the evolution of the plot, but the plot itself seems dated to me. I enjoy it from a historical perspective, (i.e. the time the action was set in, '50s), and the dialogue and character relationships are engaging. 7 Women, 4 Men. ...more
Mary Tuley
Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Afficiononados of theatre and romance.
Not much happens, as in most plays, but the characters' lives are definitely touched by that nothingness and their inability to do anything about it. It seems to me that they're mostly "about" to do something. I do love the beauty of the play's imagery, though. ...more
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William Motter Inge was an American playwright and novelist, whose works typically feature solitary protagonists encumbered with strained sexual relations. In the early 1950s, he had a string of memorable Broadway productions, and one of these, Picnic, earned him a Pulitzer Prize. With his portraits of small-town life and settings rooted in the American heartland, Inge became known as the "Playwri ...more

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