Arts / Performing Arts

Incest, Violence and Vegetables

Legendary Playwright’s “Buried Child” is a Houston Must-See

BY // 09.26.16

Incest. Violence. Love. Family. Vegetables. Milking stools. All that, and much more, is in Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Buried Child,” and The Catastrophic Theatre‘s production (running through October 1) does the tale well. I urge you to see a performance this week.

To begin, Shepard is one of America’s best playwrights. (I saw “Buried Child” on Broadway in 1996, and that evening is still large in my memory.) “La Turista,” “The Unseen Hand,” “Cowboy Mouth,” and “The Tooth of Crime” are but four of his works, and the list goes on for pages. “Buried Child” is a classic, and, if you are unfamiliar with his work, a great place to start.

Second, while the entire cast impressed me on opening night, Dodge, played by Rutherford Cravens, is stellar. He is by turns demanding and vulnerable, contrite and defiant, horrific and emasculated, fully aware of the toll of his action, but unable to fully accept reality.

I’m not going to provide a plot summary here; nor will I tell you my theory about what the play means. I will repeat, however, that you should see it before it closes. As with any timeless work, its themes reverberate today, making one think of people left behind by a combination of bad choices and events (political, economic, demographic) they are unable to control. Job losses, the Rust Belt, globalism, religion, hypocrisy, war, mental health, familial dysfunction: the more things change, the more they stay the same, no?

Three sons, one dead and two alive, a father who drinks himself to a stupor daily, and a mother whose religiosity is demented: What more can you ask for? Click here for tickets.

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