In the first play, THE PUSHCART PEDDLERS, the greenhorn, Shimmel, fresh from the old country, meets the older, wiser Cornelius and is inveigled into buying his pushcart business. Complications arise when Cornelius returns with another pushcart and proceeds to compete with Shimmel at the same location and when Shimmel is smitten by Maggie, a flower seller who aspires to become a musical comedy star. Learning quickly to adapt, Shimmel decides to become a theatrical producer—with hilarious albeit satisfying results. (2 men, 1 woman.) The second play, THE FLATULIST, is a black comedy gem in which Gregory, the son of a once famous comedian, confronts his father's longtime agent and pleads for a chance to demonstrate the rather bizarre "act" he has perfected. As the two parry and thrust, the deep-seated antagonism Gregory feels for his father's exploiter is revealed and then, in the surprising finale, suitably avenged. (2 men.) The third play, A SIMPLE KIND OF LOVE STORY, is a brilliantly inventive riches-to-rags saga in which a young writer is overwhelmed with flattery, gifts and promises of fortune by a high pressure agent and then, just as quickly, reduced to quivering uncertainty and suicide when it appears that his creative juices have run dry. (3 men, 2 women.) In the fourth play, LITTLE JOHNNY, we meet two cemetery caretakers, Mary and Tom, who lament the death of their sailor son, Little Johnny, and decide to create a proper chapel for him by looting the graves in their care. The project soon takes them over, reviving the passion that has dwindled between them, and so absorbing them that when Johnny (who has not drowned) suddenly returns they can no longer accept him and must drive him away once and for all. (2 men, 1 woman.) In the final play, WALTER, the scene is a funeral parlor, where Laura Katz has come to view the body of her late husband, Walter. As it happens, Walter was a chronic philanderer and Laura, as her cruelly funny comments make clear, deserted him. It also develops that the funeral director, Norbe, is not above "playing around" a bit himself—which offers Laura a chance to repay Walter in his own coin. (1 man, 1 woman.)
A quintet of diverting and characteristically inventive plays by one of our theatre's most successful writers. Varied in mood and style, the plays provide a well-balanced program, but may be produced individually with equal effectiveness.