Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Picnic” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.82  ·  Rating details ·  3,456 Ratings  ·  33 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Picnic, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Picnic

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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.
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.
Nov 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: plays, 2016
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.
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
Eden Nicholls
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Southern, dramatic, fantastic, holy.
Flossmoor Public Library (IL)
5 stars

- Ms. Jenn
Abigail Oldham
A classic; my forever favorite play.
Sadie Hillier
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, plays
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
Anne Martyn
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Can't figure out WHY this is back on Broadway right now ( closing soon). It costs SO much to produce a Broadway play. This time piece simply doesn't resonate with me or this age. What am I missing about this?
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.
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite plays -- definitely top of Inge's work for me. The characters and their histories are soft, unspoken, yet so rich and full. I love the work available for actors, and I love the sweet, simple storyline of a stranger coming to town and sending everyone in new directions.
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 011, plays
It's a very cute and easy to read story. I finished it within a day (about 3 hours because I had to take notes of it for my project). There are only a few characters and the scene does not really move around.
Laura Milner
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love loved this play!
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Kate Tooley
Sep 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: plays
Interesting play, thought the movie was good too despite the differnce in mood.
Brittany Petruzzi
Mar 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: plays, pulitzer-prize
Sometimes I wonder how things win the Pulitzer. It's not bad, it's just not as good as I'd hoped a Pulitzer Winner would be.
Beth Roberts
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Surprisingly dated, perhaps significantly in that it deals with the position of women in the '50s. Have never seen the movie -- must do so.
Jeff Lanter
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Quaint is how I would describe Picnic. The characters seem silly and like old stereotypes and the plot fails to really satisfy. Unlike other plays from this period, Picnic no longer holds up.
Sep 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, stage-play, 2015
“Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true.”
A little dated, but I think I can see why this was such a big deal when it came out.

For my 50 states challenge, this is my Kansas book.
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
One can appreciate how edgy it was back then, but it does fade a little now. Regardless, a well crafted pulitzer.
rated it really liked it
Nov 14, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Barefoot in the Park
  • The Man Who Came to Dinner
  • Anna in the Tropics
  • The Shadow Box
  • Talley's Folly
  • Crimes of the Heart
  • The Little Foxes
  • A Delicate Balance
  • Harvey
  • Wait Until Dark
  • Agnes of God
  • The Young Man from Atlanta
  • The Skin of Our Teeth
  • The House of Blue Leaves
  • The Heidi Chronicles
  • Ruined
  • Private Lives
  • Strange Interlude
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
More about William Inge...

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »