Scott Elliott’s revival of Sam Shepard’s 1978 masterpiece Buried Child at theTrafalgar Studios, presents a broken, dysfunctional American family stuck in a world of secrecy and denial. The outlook is bleak – a dark family secret hangs in the air like the ever-present rain.
Shepard’s writing, Elliot’s direction and the perfect cast for the piece synchromesh to create an enrapturing evening in the evening. The first act, with its slow, measured and deliberate pace, sets the scene and builds the characters, even though one is off stage for many of the exchanges.
Ed Harris’s brooding and still performance draws the audience in. He is a great stage actor, saying so much with the smallest of movements or utterances – a true master class in the art of circles of attention. Stanislavski would be proud.
The second moves to a more tragi-comic tone, introducing us to further members of the family and, with each new addition, another layer of dysfunction is uncovered.
The third and final act sees the family secret uncovered in a rather literal sense. The ending of the play provides a somewhat disturbing yet thought provoking conclusion.
Theatre is all about telling stories, a tradition that is as old as time. The performers in the piece are masters at that craft and you can do much worse than spend an evening at the Trafalgar Studios. Go get a ticket while you can, because they are sure disappear quickly!
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