Reviewed by Matt Ritchey
I watched A Noise Within’s production of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child through what seemed like a gaussian fabric – through it, I saw great acting, a gorgeous set, good direction, and high-quality performance. What was obscured was why this play was a Pulitzer Prize winner.
After doing some research and discovering that its importance stems from its use of a post-modern blending of styles and themes of emasculation and disillusionment with the American Dream, I can certainly look back and see where that applies and how those themes were palpable in 1978 and similarly, though quite differently, palpable today.
And while Geoff Elliott and Michael Manuel, in particular, give a truly wonderful performance (as Dodge and his son Tilden), on a beautiful set by Sibyl Wickersheimer with lovely lighting and sound by Ken Booth and Jeff Gardner…. I just didn’t care.
The action in the story takes place in the past and the audience watches real-time as the characters slowly and painfully fail to keep it a secret. I get it. And I enjoy it when this happens in mysteries as a way to keep up the suspense. But in a drama with vague inferred tones, it lacked for me. I’m less interested in seeing the moments in the therapist’s office and more interested in seeing the traumas that it led to therapy.
That said, A Noise Within’s production of Buried Child is strong and if you are a Shepard fan, this should not only satisfy but impress.
Photo (above) by Craig Schwartz: (Background) Geoff Elliott (foreground) Michael Manuel.
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