Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Four-Star Show: How I Observed Veterans’ Day–“Medal of Honor Rag” play here till Nov. 27

My Quaker friend John and I observed Veterans’ Day by going to see “Medal of Honor Rag,” a short, taught, moving drama with three actors on a small set in front of an intimate audience in three rows of seats.  Written in the early 1970s, it’s about the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on people who fight or live through wars.  It’s about survivor’s guilt and grief, and feeling dead even though you are still alive, and the way toward healing and acceptance of life.  It’s about how we send people off to fight and how we welcome them back and care for them and their souls when they come back–or how we don’t that so well.

The artistic director of the theater company told us before curtain that he has conferred with Veterans’ Administration professionals in a few different cities, and they’ve said that the VA will not be ready for the needs of all the vets who will come back as we draw down forces in Iraq.

The cast includes a seasoned, big-time actor and a powerful new actor who is still in college.  Patrick Murphy not long ago retired from teaching at the Goodman School of Drama at Chicago’s DePaul University and moved to Sacramento, where several of our his former students are living young actors and directors and enriching the local arts scene.  Isaiah Williams is a very attractive new actor who is an undergraduate history major at UC Davis.

The picture of them in a local newspaper review does not do them justice.  A third (and young) actor also does well in his  two scenes as an MP guard.

They portray a battle of the the will and battle of wits, and the courage that it takes to be a healer and to be willing to heal oneself.  I don’t like to say much about a plot in a review, because I want folks to go and for the play to unfold for them as it did for me.

I didn’t think I was that engaged as the play unfolded, though I liked watching it.  By the end I felt it strongly.  We had walked, so on the walk of several blocks back home afterward, I didn’t stop talking about all that was on my mind and heart because of this experience.

The stories from war that the young man told are familiar from recent stories from the Middle East, and vaguely familiar from what I heard about Vietnam as a young person, and what I saw in movies.  It’s intense but not visually gory.  There are cigarettes but they don’t get lit!

Please try to see this play wherever you are.  See

California Stage is the company, and the play is performed at the Threepenny Theater at the 25R complex at R and 25th Streets, right by the light rail tracks.  It plays at 8 PM.  No intermission, about 1 hour 15 minutes.  Very affordable for the excellent acting.


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