When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? Essay - Critical Essays

Mark Medoff

Critical Context

A recurrent theme in Mark Medoff’s oeuvre is the discrepancy between the heroic and innocent dreams of childhood and adult reality. Besides When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?, this same conflict is central to The Kramer (pr. 1972) and, especially, The Majestic Kid (pr. 1965). The device is perhaps most obvious in The Majestic Kid, where Medoff introduces as a character in the play the cowboy hero the Laredo Kid. The Kid can only be seen by the protagonist of the play, Aaron Weiss, who himself throughout the play tries to conform to the macho image of his boyhood heroic projection of himself as the Majestic Kid. The Laredo Kid is a fleshing out of subconscious processes in Aaron’s mind as he faces various situations and challenges. The conflict is that the cowboy heroes and their ideals, if they ever had live models, belong in the 1940’s and 1950’s. In Medoff’s plays, they are like dinosaurs trying to pass as twentieth century animals: They simply do not belong. Aaron is a modern, sensitive man, full of angst and possessing a healthy respect for women. He cannot fill out the heroic shadow of his childhood ideal, nor can he see how this awkward, oversized piece—the cowboy hero—could ever fit into the puzzle of a modern, sleek world.

Another recurrent element in Medoff’s works is the violent outsider who tries to come to grips with a world with which he somehow is about to lose contact. Teddy in When...

(The entire section is 435 words.)