Buried Child

Review: Shepard’s buried family

Profile's 'Buried Child' cradles meaning between the blanks

Tilden (Tim Blough) toddles onstage like a child, eyes vacantly wandering, arms full of vegetables. His brother Bradley (Garland Lyons) lurches at Tilden and others with a menacing glare. And Dodge (Tobias Anderson) slumps wearily on the couch, gradually dessicating into an unhappy husk. Halie (Jane Fellows) comes and goes from the house, acting pert and chatty, pretending nothing is wrong.

From left: Andersen, Fellows, Lyons. Photo: David Kinder

Tobias Andersen (left) and Garland Lyons. Photo: David Kinder

“Anytime a character makes us wonder, ‘Were they always like that, or did something happen to them?’…I always prefer to think something happened,” explained Buried Child director Adriana Baer in Sunday’s post-performance talkback. “We know Tilden was an all-American, a high acheiver, intelligent…so what did happen? How did Bradley manage to accidentally saw off his own leg with a chainsaw? What happened there?”

Indeed, what happens before, and around, and behind the scenes we actually see is the crux of Sam Shepard’s eerie 1979 Pulitzer winner Buried Child. What’s onstage, meanwhile, is often inexplicable. Why doesn’t the family patriarch recognize his supposed grandson Vince (Ty Hewitt) when he comes for a surprise visit? Why doesn’t his supposed father, Tilden, give him the time of day? WHAT HAPPENED?