End of the World Party, Bailiwick Repertory. Chuck Ranberg’s predictable but charming play, part of Bailiwick’s annual Pride series, is centered around a beach house named Ill Repute in the gay mecca of Fire Island, New York. The seven male characters–all types we’ve met before–include Will (Cade Wenthe), a hypochondriac who’s afraid he’s infected with HIV but still cruises for anonymous sex; Nick (Chris Kossen), a party boy who uses drugs and sex to ease his loneliness; and Hunter (Danne Taylor), a crotchety architect who can express love only in pointed wisecracks.
The often shirtless septet merrily troll for lovers throughout the summer, all the while engaging in petty quarrels, rivalries, and intimate conversations that do nothing to threaten or improve their friendship. The cast–especially Patrick Rybarczyk as an actor looking for a husband and Michael Hampton as a teacher who finds spirituality after losing his partner to AIDS–offer warm, full portrayals, though they lose their way a bit toward the end, when a feel-good sitcom solution brings a melodramatic incident to a close.