THE SUGAR RIDGE RAG
by Philip Middleton Williams
Dave and Pete Granger, age 17, are twin brothers in rural Ohio in 1970. Dave enlists in the Army as a combat medic and is sent to Vietnam. Pete, a piano prodigy and gay, goes to Canada to pursue his education in music and avoids the draft. Their parents – Hal, a veteran of the Korean War, and Deb, a nurse – are left to deal with the consequences of their sons’ actions and their future as a family. Over the next five years, their lives are changed forever by the war and the choices each of them has made.
- Cast Size: 3M 1W
- Running Time: 90+ minutes
- Royalty Rate: $75 per performance
Order Digital Download (Will NOT download to phones)
As enjoyable as plays are to read, they are meant to be performed; interpretations by a director and their cast are bound to differ from the preconceived notions that come from reading a work, and seeing Williams’ THE SUGAR RIDGE RAG in performance at the Lab Theater Project recently revealed so many more levels to this touching story than are apparent on the page. A powerful piece of writing, the production pointed the way to what the script could be when performed – a heartbreaking, engrossing, and thought-provoking piece of theater.
A half century ago, men of my generation who had low draft numbers faced choices that boiled down to “Vietnam or Canada.” The twins in this play each choose differently and their whole family has to come to grips with the ramifications of those choices. Williams captures the atmosphere of the times and of small-town Midwest life perfectly and gives each twin his due in this wonderfully theatrical work. Highly recommended.
The beauty of this play lies in the form and structure of the piece that makes it theatrical, like the intricate, surprising rhythms of ragtime music that serves as a metaphor for the twin brothers’ differences despite their intense bond. We are so accustomed to Vietnam War stories told to us cinematically that when we see one onstage, or even read one, we are caught off guard by the subtleties in characterization and minimalism that a theatre piece can provide, especially one as powerful as Williams’ play is. This family drama shows us the turbulence of the times exceedingly well.
A tightly designed, beautifully executed play. The characters, the dialogue and the story are sublime. Philip Middleton Williams is a master at realism; channeling O’Neill, Miller, & Williams among others, but he makes it his own; bringing a freshness to the genre and, in many ways, transforming it. At the center of this gorgeous piece is a close-knit, loving and progressive family – likely very unique for that time period. While these people are flawed and hurting, their focus is not on the resentment that keeps creeping up, but rather on healing and coming back together. I am absolutely devastated.
Review The Sugar Ridge Rag.