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A book review on sam shepards buried child

First produced at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco on June 27, 1978 and in New York City at the Theatre for the New City later that year, an off-Broadway production in 2016 featured Ed Harris in the role of Dodge, an old timer withering away on a sofa while his hen pecking wife Halie played by Harris' wife Amy Madigan in that production tries to keep a secret from ripping what remains of the family apart when they receive a surprise visitor.

This is the first non-Shakespeare a book review on sam shepards buried child I've read, but I was able to follow my system of streaming a staging of the play and then reading it. Reading scripts without seeing the play or film is like reading the owner's manual for a car without going for a test drive and over time, has proven a very good system for studying Shakespeare as well as buying cars.

My goal for reading Sam Shepard was to forget that I was reading a Sam Shepard play, who everyone seems to agree was a great American playwright and whose drama I wanted to appreciate, having been an admirer of his stoic character work in classic films like Days of Heaven, Resurrection and The Right Stuff.

There were aspects I did like about the play. Set in present day Illinois, where anywhere not Chicago or its suburbs might be considered "country," the story does focus on the heartland, a farming family whose fortunes took a turn for the worst at some point in the past and is rotting from the core. Its dying patriarch Dodge is laid up on the sofa, smoking cigarettes or sneaking nips of whiskey from a bottle he's hidden, while his God fearing wife Halie leaves for a night out with her priest, placing Dodge in the care of their oldest surviving son Tilden, a man in his forties who has moved back home, unable to function on his own.

Buried Child – review

Tilden seems obsessed with picking vegetables. You go and take that corn back to wherever you got it from!

I picked it all in the rain. Once it's picked you can't put it back. I haven't had trouble with neighbors here for fifty-seven years. I don't even know who the neighbors are! And I don't wanna know!

Now go and put that corn back where it came from! Are you having trouble here, Tilden? Are you in some kind of trouble? I'm not in any trouble.

You can tell me if you are. I'm still your father. I know you're my father. I know you had a little trouble back in New Mexico. That's why you came out here. Out of the rain, Dodge receives visitors: Vince is on his way to New Mexico and has insisted on stopping at all the places of his youth, including the home of his grandparents, who like the rest of his family, Vince has not seen in six years.

Shelly begins to wonder whether Vince has the right house. Wanting to be accepted by his family, Vince agrees to make a run to the liquor store for Dodge, leaving Shelly alone with his grandfather and father. They're soon joined by Dodge's other broken, surviving son, Bradley, whose leg has been amputated and is only able to function physically as well as Tilden can function emotionally. Before his brother can confide a secret to Shelly, Bradley runs him off and menaces his nephew's girlfriend physically.

When Vince fails to return, she spends the night.

In the morning, Dodge assures Shelly that Bradley is harmless once you take his leg away. She fixes the old timer a cup of beef bullion in an effort to improve his spirits. Halie ultimately returns with Father Dewis and wont' stand for Shelly in the house, asking questions.

Dodge finally decides to have it out with a family secret. I'm not sure I want to find out now. Now she's runnin' scared! DODGE stops laughing, long pause. DODGE stares at her. Because I'm not either. See, we were a well established family once. All the boys were grown. That farm was producing enough milk to fill Lake Michigan twice over. Me and Halie here were pointed toward what looked like the middle part of our life.

Everything was settled with us.

See a Problem?

All we had to do was ride it out. Then Halie got pregnant again. Outa' the middle of nowhere, she got pregnant.

  1. Its dying patriarch Dodge is laid up on the sofa, smoking cigarettes or sneaking nips of whiskey from a bottle he's hidden, while his God fearing wife Halie leaves for a night out with her priest, placing Dodge in the care of their oldest surviving son Tilden, a man in his forties who has moved back home, unable to function on his own. Then Halie got pregnant again.
  2. In addition to the family secret, which view spoiler [is given away by the play's title hide spoiler ] there was nothing remarkable about the dialogue, but it held my interest up to a point.
  3. Vince is on his way to New Mexico and has insisted on stopping at all the places of his youth, including the home of his grandparents, who like the rest of his family, Vince has not seen in six years. Most of this strong cast rise to meet it, but Matthew Kelly's wily, desolate patriarch, Dodge, deserves special mention.
  4. Shelly begins to wonder whether Vince has the right house.

We weren't planning on havin' any more boys. We had enough boys already. In fact, we hadn't been sleepin' in the same bed for about six years.

  1. Set in present day Illinois, where anywhere not Chicago or its suburbs might be considered "country," the story does focus on the heartland, a farming family whose fortunes took a turn for the worst at some point in the past and is rotting from the core.
  2. DODGE stops laughing, long pause. In addition to the rural setting of Buried Child, I liked Shepard's robust mix of tragedy and some comedy, piousness and sin, sobriety and drunkenness, self-restraint and lust.
  3. Shepard's writing here poses a challenge to actors. You go outside, you'll be listenin' to it outside.

I don't have to listen to this! Where are you going! You'll just be listenin' to it upstairs! You go outside, you'll be listenin' to it outside. Might as well stay here and listen to it. HALIE stays by stairs. If I had my leg you wouldn't be saying this. You'd never get away with it if I had my leg. In addition to the rural setting of Buried Child, I liked Shepard's robust mix of tragedy and some comedy, piousness and sin, sobriety and drunkenness, self-restraint and lust.

It wasn't anything that knocked me down a flight of stairs, but I did find Dodge to be a compelling character who ends up exactly where a lot of people do in their finals days, bitter at being dependent on others but not wanting to be left alone either.

In addition to the family secret, which view spoiler [is given away by the play's title hide spoiler ] there was nothing remarkable about the dialogue, but it held my interest up to a point. The final scene went over-the-top for me and didn't really affect me.