Review: Theater Within's 'Buried Child'

Linda Parr and David Ross star in "Buried Child."

3.5 stars

Theater Within; directed by Rod Isaac;

through March 19.

Sam Shepard’s (The Tooth of

Crime, True West) 1979 Pulitzer-Prize-winning drama gives us a family

that is as grotesquely dysfunctional as it is familiar. Grandma and

Grandpa talk to and past each other from separate rooms, before

bible-quoting Grandma meets the minister for lunch, or is it a tryst?

Grandson Vince shows up after six years of absence and no one, including

his brain-addled dad, seems to know he exists.

We start to wonder if he’s

actually a phantom of the dead infant that haunts the family’s

failed farm. Shepard suggests these and far more bizarre

possibilities, inducing anxiety as often as laughs. Like Tennessee

Williams, he portrays the painful and mysterious bonds of family, but

more like Samuel Beckett, he leads us to feel and know things more

than to understand them.

This production lags occasionally and

the cast could use a larger stage to burn up the writer’s

energy. Still, the community players range from good to remarkable

(especially David Ross as the grandfather dying for a $2 bottle of

whiskey) at catching the Shepard’s strange, enviable buzz. For

the first time ever, I wished I could go back to the seventies, just

to follow the playwright’s trajectory across American theater.