When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?

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When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? is a play by Mark Medoff.

The setting is Foster's Diner, a New Mexico rest stop that lost most of its clientele when a new highway bypass opened. Employees include restless cook Stephen (nicknamed "Red Ryder"), mousy waitress Angel, and their no-nonsense boss Clark. Lyle, owner of the adjacent filling station, stops in on occasion to break the monotony with his cheery banter. The boring routine of the daily grind is disrupted with the arrival of two couples, the upscale Richard and Clarisse, and the younger and wilder Teddy, an unbalanced Vietnam War vet, and Cheryl, his hippie girlfriend. Complications arise when illegal drugs and guns enter the picture, and Teddy resorts to physical, mental, and emotional torture when he holds everyone hostage.


The story starts out in a neat but rundown little cafe. The protagonist, Stephen "Red" Slesinger, is sitting at the counter after finishing his shift. He is smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee from a paper cup. Angel enters, late. Red and Angel discuss various things.


Stephen Ryder

  • Angel Childress
  • Teddy
  • Clarisse Ethridge
  • Richard Ethridge
  • Tommy Clark
  • Lyle Striker
  • Cheryl


The first of Medoff's plays to receive a New York City staging, it opened on November 4, 1973 at the Circle Repertory Company and played 26 performances, before producer Elliot Martin transferred it on December 6 to off-Broadway's Eastside Playhouse, where it ran for 302 performances. The cast, directed by Kenneth Frankel, included Kevin Conway and Brad Dourif.

Medoff won an Obie Award for Distinguished Play in 1974.[1]

In May 2009 the play received an off-off-Broadway revival from Retro Productions.


The 1979 film version, adapted by Medoff and directed by Milton Katselas, starred Marjoe Gortner, Candy Clark, Stephanie Faracy, Lee Grant, Hal Linden, Peter Firth, Pat Hingle, Audra Lindley, and Anne Ramsey.


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