COOLER NEAR THE LAKE by Philip Middleton Williams


Sam and Frank Weaver are at their summer home on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay in Michigan for a memorial service for Ruth, Frank’s wife and Sam’s mother. They are joined by friends and former lovers who reminisce about their summers spent up at the lake and uncover some well-kept memories that some think are better kept unremembered.



SAM WEAVER:  mid-thirties.

FRANK WEAVER:  mid-fifties.  Sam’s father.

KENNY BARNHILL:  late twenties.  Muscular.  Local kid.

GARY ANDERSON:  mid-thirties.  Athletic, childhood friend of Sam.

JANEY ANDERSON:  mid-fifties.  Gary’s mother.

PETE O’ROURKE:  mid-thirties.  Sam’s former lover.

GREG ANDERSON:  mid-fifties.  Gary’s father.




The specificity of time, place, and characterizations in “Cooler By The Lake” give it a wonderfully poignant charm and humanity. A pleasure to read, I imagine its pleasures will multiply tenfold when staged, which I hope it will be because I’d love to see it performed. – Doug DeVita

COOLER NEAR THE LAKE is written with an old-style type of craft, of the William Inge – Robert Anderson school, whereby the surface observation is so precisely accurate– the casual joking, the deflection, the avoidance, the good manners, — so well deployed as to demand that actors and audience collaborate to see through the characters’ facades to their secret deeds and hidden wounds. The revelations come, followed by the struggle for understanding and a reconciliation that is natural, well-grounded in character and highly satisfying. There is much here for actors to work with and much for audiences to enjoy. – Kerr Lockhart

A lovely and engaging chamber piece poking at the strict divisions of class and gender orientation that permeate our culture. The characters are so specific and wonderfully rendered that we are immediately invested in their stories. As the party goes on and the scotch flows, secrets come out as they inevitably do, and I was along for the ride the whole time. I also can’t fail to mention how funny the play is and how some of the best moments of wit come out at unexpected moments. — Maximillian Gill


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