With enthusiastic actors and beautiful set design, even the smallest of community theaters can put on a quality show that amounts to something above what’s expected.

With enthusiastic actors and beautiful set design, even the smallest of community theaters can put on a quality show that amounts to something above what’s expected.

Such has been the streak at College of the Siskiyous the past few seasons. First was Leaving Iowa, then The Foreigner, and now there's Neil Carpentier-Alting’s production of William Inge’s “Picnic,” where a handsome drifter ignites emotions in a small Kansas community on the morning of the Labor Day picnic.

Set in the 1950s, Picnic tells a fairly predictable story of a small town where everything is going along according to the rules. Gender roles are defined immediately. The men work for the money, the women work for the men. The women are bored and lonely, while the men have no idea why. That is, until the inevitable wrench is thrown into convention in the form of a young man whose style is, at first, a breath of fresh air. And wouldn’t you know it, the girls realize they want a breath of it, too.

The play starts with widow Flo Owens (Kim Nile) and her two daughters. Madge (LeAnne Gosmeyer) is the oldest and prettiest. Millie (Zoé Frost) is the more rambunctious and brighter of the two. Madge is set to become a typical trophy wife to Alan (Cory Coppin), a well respected college boy, while Millie is preparing to go to college on scholarship.

When Hal (Paul Johnson), an arrogant but good-natured bum and friend of Alan shows up and starts working for the neighbor next door, Flo begins to worry about his influence on her daughters. Alan warns playfully about his friend Hal’s bad qualities, but always maintains that he’s a good man.

At this point, everyone is looking forward to the Labor Day Picnic, and looking up to Hal. With his smooth talk, brawny physique and devil-may-care attitude Hal comes into town and sweeps the ladies off their feet. His attraction to Madge is obvious and you can see trouble brewing from a mile away. Everyone is vying for Hal’s affections until just before the picnic.

While getting ready, a few drops of whiskey are consumed and Hal impresses everyone with his fancy dance moves. When Hal leaves Millie to dance with Madge, the tables turn.

Prompted by a vomiting Millie, who snuck a few extra swigs, the attitude toward Hal quickly turns negative. After accidentally insulting local schoolteacher Rosemary (Kymberly Morgan), Hal falls victim to her in the most well performed sequence of the play.

Other than the brilliantly delivered tongue lashing by Rosemary, the play had some nice quiet moments in the aftermath. At different times, characters like Alan and Rosemary stand fuming in their anger and embarrassment. It was that level of detailed acting that kept you involved in the characters.

The women are the most effected in the story, while the men behave as catalysts for their behavior. Hal's impact on the women is profound and life altering, but his effect on the men is minimal. You get the impression that all these women needed was a kick in the pants. The fact that it was Hal who changed their lives was incidental. It could have been anyone with his brand of charisma.

The cast also includes Kerrie Lynne Lane as Flo's neighbor Helen Potts, who hires Hal to do a little work for her. Brenda Craig and Michaela Schneider play Irma and Christine respectively, two more friends of Flo and Rosemary who provide a gossip audience for the antics of the day. Bill Counts plays Howard Bevans, local store owner and boyfriend of Rosemary, who gets a little more than he bargained for after Rosemary's angry outburst and emotional breakdown. And last but not least, Solomon Lind plays the part of Bomber, the neighborhood paperboy who adds a little more male antagonism by firing his newspapers at his customer's porches and irritating young Millie.

The play will continue its run on Friday and Saturday, October 21 and 22, at 8 p.m. with a matinee on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and $5 for students and seniors.

To reserve tickets or for more information contact the COS Public Relations Office at (530) 938-5373.