A LATE SNOW by Jane Chambers; Directed by Theresa Aceves. With Kim Langford, Julie Beckman, Kathleen Weber, Ricci Levine and Theresa Aceves.

At the Source Theatre (on an irregular schedule) through Feb. 15.

Jane Chambers' "A Late Snow," now at the Source Theatre, is a coming-out-of-the-closet party for lesbiansim as theatrical subject matter. It is also a reminder that when someone or something comes out of the closet, the risk of temporary insanity is high.

Thus the heroine of "A Late Snow," an English professor named Elly, isn't having just one relationship but four, and the play manages to put all five women -- the heroine, two of her past lovers, one present and one prospective -- into the same cramped cabin one wintry night. Each relationship is then unveiled and explored and carried to a confrontation, until at last Elly makes her choice, including a choice to be prouder about lesbianism. "I can't march, but I won't hide," she declares.

As you might expect with so many rival lovers under one roof, things get crowded at times (even more so because of the economical set). Intimate conversations take place with third parties in a position to overhear and make snide remarks, which is the particular specialty of a character named Pat, a local antique dealer who is Elly's most recent ex-lover. Every five minutes or so, one of the characters walks in on two of her cabinmates in the middle of an embrace, and expresses fresh surprise and resentment.

Much of the dialogue is lively and colorful, but it is hard to take the soap-operatic story line or the wispy, all-too-faddish conclusions seriously. The company takes it very seriously, however. Kathleen Weber is solid and persuasive as Elly; Kim Langford is approapriately hard-edged and scared as the wisecracking Pat; and Theresa Aceves is extremely funny as Elly's old roommate, whose marriage is on the fritz. Aceves is also the director, and should therefore receive a large share of credit for the fact that this production makes the play's melodramatic buildups and turnabouts as close to plausible as possible.