Retro Theatre Company, at Cafe Voltaire

Joe Cino was an important force in the early 60s in New York City’s once-vital off-off-Broadway scene–Lanford Wilson cut his teeth at Caffe Cino. Which is all the more reason this troupe of still-green actors and all-thumbs playwrights shouldn’t be dragging his name through the mud by associating it with their sloppy, amateurish efforts.

Surely nothing on even the worst days at the original Caffe Cino ever reached the depths of Tom Hietter’s long, predictable, hysterically overacted “comedy” Tuna Fish, about a pair of loudmouthed crazies who meet on an el in the wee hours, or Sara Reily’s cloying, undramatic, sub-movie-of-the-week drama 10,000 Wars, about a father and daughter coming to grips with a loss.

On the program with these unbearable Chicago originals are two plays from the Caffe Cino: a mildly interesting but kinda long monologue by Lanford Wilson, Days Ahead, made less interesting and even longer by Milt Skelton’s narrow range as an actor, and a witty, surprisingly well directed and acted absurdist exploration of the creative process written by Robert Patrick, Action. Naturally this gem comes first on the bill, so we in the audience can better savor every drop of the bilge that makes up the rest of the evening.