Sam Shepard’s 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child is now playing at The Segal Center. With such critical and box office successes like: True West (1980), Fool for Love (1983) and Lie of the Mind (1985) Shepard is considered to be the second most frequently produced American playwright in the USA after Tennessee Williams. He is also attribute with the honor of following in the footsteps of such well-established American playwright icons as Eugene O'Neill and Edward Albee. This production of Buried Child is essentially the same play as the original with adaptations that were previously presented south of the border in the mid-1990’s. Apparently he streamlined the play to make it more ambiguous in some parts and more clarified in others.
The casting is exceptional and praise Rachelle Glait and Peter Hinton for it is the actor’s that save this production from being 'buried alive', proving once again that, even if you don’t care for the actual play, good strong actors can keep it entertaining. The most standout performances are delivered by David Fox (Dodge) and Alex Ivanovici (Bradley). The costuming is very well conceived by Eo Sharp, as are some of the special stage effects. The sound track and special sound effects, designed by Troy Slocum, are at times 'over kill' and seem very deliberate making it harder to stay focused on the dialogue. The stage set design, also by Sharp, is mysterious and daunting when you first enter the theatre and the use of lighting, designed by Robert Thompson, is also very impressive creating an almost frigid climate for this cold play (pun intended). One has the impression that we are in a huge Mac truck refrigerated wooden pallet lined container. The design does eventually over-shadow the play however, and the lighting becomes a distraction, especially for those who are seat in the side balconies.
I recently had to read and to analyze this play, and suffered throughout the process. It is no big surprise to note that I don’t like the play, nor that I am not a big fan of Shepard’s work. I went hoping to be converted. Although during the 1st act I was coming over to the other side, appreciating both the subtle humor and the wit of the writing and natural comedic timing of the actors, but the play does eventually become too slow paced and the 2nd act reaches out too far on the dark side remaining too ambiguous and not clear enough for me to appreciate it.
Sam Sheppard’s updated version of Buried Child continues at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts to Feb. 22. Saidye, 5170 Côte Ste. Catherine Rd. Ticket info at 514-739-7944, admission.com or 514-790-1245