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Buried Child

From 38 critic and 104 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Intense, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Slow

About the show

The New Group presents Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play about an American family struggling to overcome the many obstacles in the way of the American Dream. Starring Ed Harris. More…

Dodge and Halie are barely hanging on to their farmland and their sanity while looking after their two wayward grown sons. When their grandson Vince arrives with his girlfriend, no one seems to recognize him, and confusion abounds. As Vince tries to make sense of the chaos, the rest of the family dances around a deep, dark secret. This poetic and comedic take on the American family drama pulls apart the threadbare deluded visions of our families and our homes.


"This is a magnificent production, prodigiously acted by the ensemble cast and brilliantly conceived, staged, and designed by Scott Elliot and his team. The production throbs with tension. The undercurrents vibrate throughout. Above all the character portrayals balance evenly to create a living portrait of the poignancy of human families…Elliot has guided this cast into taut perfection…'Buried Child' is beyond memorable. It is is one for the ages." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"'Buried Child' retains the ability to shock and stun…Although he could at times sharpen up the pacing just a bit, Elliott has delivered one of his best directing jobs in years with this production. Yes, he has done a masterful job of establishing and maintaining atmosphere, which remains consistent in its innate quality even as it grows, expands, and suffocates...He has guided nearly every actor into being both an integral part of the action and unmistakable individual." Full Review


"There was something both unusually profound and inexorably sad in this depiction of a Midwest clan whose aspirations for success, never mind, normalcy have completely evaporated, and those qualities still remain staunchly at the forefront of Scott Elliott’s mostly stunning revival...We can only be grateful that The New Group has not just dug up 'Buried Child' but resurrected it so beautifully." Full Review

Front Row Center

"The New Group does Shepard proud with this deep, dark revival, led by Ed Harris who turns in a masterful and rugged performance…The choice to use inexperienced actors here is a gamble that pays off, with their nervous, awkward energy creating just the right dramatic tension...Rhythm can be everything in a play that twists and warps as much as this one. Happily, director Scott Elliott not only nails the pacing, he flaunts it."” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Shepard’s achievement is to have invested realist American dramaturgy with the spirit of late-European modernism...The resulting work is at once timeless and grounded in its 1970s setting. Under Scott Elliott’s unobtrusive yet assured direction the performances are all first-class...The final scenes sacrifice some of the first two acts’ enigmatic power, but the play concludes with an image as harrowingly iconic as Sissy Spacek’s blood-spattered Carrie." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Director Scott Elliott skillfully brings together this thought-provoking piece. Elliott highlights the unsettlingly relatable aspect of this family that Shepard has built. The audience goes from shock to laughter, and often both at the same time. It’s impossible not to leave the intimate theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center and wonder what exactly just happened. This production of 'Buried Child' is theatre worth thinking about for days." Full Review


"This is a fascinating production that will haunt you for days…Director Scott Elliott is especially skilled at preserving a dreamlike tone, endowing the visual elements with a vibrancy that is a shade too vivid to be real…Ironically, Dodge comes off as the most authentically human of the bunch. Harris plays him with a fine mixture of grit and pharmaceutical loopiness." Full Review

Edge New York

"What truly makes 'Buried Child' engaging is its hybridity; it's seemingly straightforward at parts, existing in the real world, but then it's remarkably surreal and symbolic...The obvious mechanism behind the play is the family's secret, but the real treasure is the dualities that complicate the story and whose tension give everything ironic weight...The cast knows how to work with each other, taking their time to set up comedic cues and establish a palpable tension." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"An A-list cast, under the direction of Scott Elliott, is now tasked with handling the layered, poetic text of Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize winning play that stands, rightly and unshakably, in the canon of American theater...Despite a bit of uneven casting, 'Buried Child' still remains as stirring as ever, and unique in its capability to leave an audience, in darkness and dread, sitting for two hours within the hollowed out carcass of the American Dream." Full Review

New York Post

“The main reason to see ‘Buried Child’ is Harris and Madigan. Harris spends most of the show on a threadbare couch and somehow manages to be charismatic anyway…Some of the supporting roles are a little wonkier. Farmiga gives a mannered performance but it reinforces her stranger-in-a-strange-land status and she makes it work for her.” Full Review


"'Buried Child' is still a gripping gothic tale — a demanding theatrical experience since it leaves the audience to figure out its many ambiguities…Harris is a fierce, seething central presence throughout. That's not to say that the other cast members don't also contribute mightily to enriching the eerie family portrait...Though Shepard rewrote the play in 1996 to intensify its humor, he never changed its raggedy often mystifying dramaturgy." Full Review

AM New York

"Some of its shock value has worn off, but 'Buried Child' remains a gritty, mysterious, often engrossing portrait of domestic life gone to hell, as demonstrated by Scott Elliott’s well-acted revival...The production’s intimacy, intense physicality and seamless flow keep it vivid and visceral, even when the dialogue gets slow or confounding twists pop up...Harris is especially absorbing as a father who is essentially a shadow of his former self." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Directed by Scott Elliott and anchored by a deeply textured yet effortless performance by Ed Harris, the revival doesn’t strain for shock, emphasizing ordinary rather than grotesque aspects of its characters’ lives...The ensemble is packed with veteran talent...While this may not be the finest 'Buried Child' you’ll see, the play only comes around every 20 years, and it’s worth a homecoming." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

“Director Scott Elliott has wisely compressed the three acts of ‘Buried Child’ into a seamless and undisturbed 110 minutes…The ensemble cast, except for Harris’ compelling portrayal of Dodge, seems not yet in full connection to their characters…It is Ed Harris’ Dodge that carries 'Buried Child' from beginning to end. Watching him on stage is a sheer delight...Kudos to the New Group for bringing this iconic play back home.” Full Review

The Associated Press

"Shepard's cleverly crafted and layered drama pits three generations of a shattered, self-destructive Midwestern farm family against one another…Ed Harris is sublimely cantankerous and engrossing to watch as Dodge, the dying, couch-ridden patriarch…Amy Madigan is restrained, taut perfection as Halie." Full Review


"Buried Child' takes a set of ordinary circumstances and creates something so outrageous, leaving the audience to wonder what on earth was going on in Shepard’s mind...But this type of juxtaposition is often very humorous, and all the actors managed to convey this very well through their tone of voice. Even some lines that don’t necessarily seem hilarious on paper had everyone cracking up. Overall, the actors’ portrayals of a dysfunctional American family are effective and magnetic." Full Review


"With its social commentary more of museum quality in 2016, audiences today may grow impatient with the play's ambiguous plotting. But there's something to be said for a fine museum display, and director Scott Elliott's solid production for The New Group is good for some sick laughs and some mildly rebellious symbolism." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Harris’ unforced and potent performance in the New Group’s revival makes this engaging but unevenly acted production worthwhile...Cast against type by director Scott Elliott, 'Mad Man' alum Sommer effectively taps his dark side as Bradley. Sparks, as always, is magnetic. Madigan and Farmiga need to dig deeper to make their characters less one-note. 'Buried Child' isn’t exactly subtle but it still grabs and sends shivers." Full Review

The Wrap

"Shepard’s gift for language is captured in the play’s opening scene with the pitch-perfect performances of its two lead actors…Under Scott Elliott’s otherwise flawless direction, 'Buried Child' could use an intermission after Shelly’s violation instead of being performed straight through. The other much larger problem is Farmiga’s performance...Her staccato, perky delivery is irritating when we first meet her. It’s all wrong later, when she’s meant to be seen as a civilizing force."" Full Review

Cultural Weekly

"Director Scott Elliott emphasizes the dark humor so that the grim revelations are more startling…Ed Harris’s Dodge dominates the action, a weakened lion growling with an echo of diminished power and furious at his weakness…Paul Sparks is heartbreaking as the diminished Tilden...As Vince and Shelly, Nat Wolff and Taissa Farming, young actors with mostly film and TV credits, fail to plumb the depths of Shepard’s dark vision." Full Review


"The play yields answers to its real mysteries reluctantly if at all...But a fine cast gingerly directed by Scott Elliott and led by Ed Harris and Amy Madigan keeps the smoky pot stirred, playing the weird, funny, tragic story for all it’s worth. The new Off-Broadway revival by The New Group would be worth seeing purely for Ed Harris’s vinegary central performance." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"While Harris and Madigan are deft at navigating Shepard’s nuanced style, Wolff and Farmiga struggle to find their footing. Emotions are distilled to screaming and flippant rebuttals, leaving these integral characters as mere cut-outs against an in-depth backdrop. This play won’t be everyone’s theatrical cup of tea. It’s uncomfortable subject matter and Shepard’s unforgiving delivery of it makes for a squeamish 90 minutes. But if you can take it, there’s something to unearth in ‘Buried Child’.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"For the most part I must applaud director Scott Elliot’s attempt to streamline this oft-produced three-act epic into a no-intermission one-act. However, where speed-of-delivery is often well handled and actually helps elevate the material, there were elements I found troubling." Full Review

The New York Times

"Mr. Elliott and his starry cast give us a thoughtful, lucid presentation that’s absorbing enough to remind us of why it’s always worth revisiting…The greatest strength and weakness of Mr. Elliott’s production lie in its determined prosiness...It wants us to listen to Mr. Shepard’s characters as if they truly were members of our own family, so that they can sucker-punch us when we feel most unguarded...It muffles its climactic shocks." Full Review

Off Script with Dan Dwyer

"Harris is about as good here as anything I’ve seen him do on stage: his timing, which sets the pace for the whole ensemble, impeccable. Seasoned featured players keep up, but the roles of Vince, Dodge’s grandson, and Shellie, Vince’s girlfriend, seemed miscast...Still, credit to Scott Elliott’s The New Group that, with productions like this, provides the most reliable venue for revival of breakthrough American drama of the 1960s and 70s." Full Review

Great acting, Funny, Riveting, Must see, Absorbing

See it if Looking for a tremendous cast led by Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. Sam Shepard's brilliant portrayal of a family lost in tragedy.

Don't see it if Looking for a fluffy, comical piece. Although witty with humor dispersed throughout, it is a tragedy after all.

Absorbing, Great writing, Great acting, Edgy, Demanding

See it if you want to see some of the best acting imaginable on a stage.

Don't see it if you want escapist entertainment.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Original, Masterful

See it if You are a Sam Shepard fan, love great acting, emotional involvement, story of human involvement and frailties.

Don't see it if You do not like to think.

Edgy, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a great Sam Shepard play. Terrific acting.

Don't see it if N/A

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Intense, Riveting

See it if Although some of the actors were not as good as I would have liked, most were wonderful. It was very intense, making one teary eyed.

Don't see it if If you don't like intense drama.

Great acting, Intense, Great cast!

See it if you really love an intense drama. Ed Harris gives a strong performance, surrounded by an ensemble of top notch actors. It really floors you.

Don't see it if You dislike plays, especially those written by Sam Shepard or those that deal with family conflict either.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Quirky, Epic, Hilarious

See it if You want to see Ed Harris act the hell out of a role! Props to Madigan, Sparks, and Pine as well. A well-deserved Pulitzer to Mr. Shepard!

Don't see it if What were they thinking with casting the two younger actors. They are way out of their depth amongst the people mentioned above.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if You want to see an interesting drama that makes you think. The acting is great.

Don't see it if You don't like Sam Shepard.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You like slightly dark humor and great acting.

Don't see it if If you're disturbed easily.

Clever, Funny, Intelligent, Quirky, Great writing

See it if You want to see a truly fantastic production of a one of our darker classic American plays. It's a swift, exciting 90 minute ride. Worth it.

Don't see it if You're looking for a light comedy or anything that will breeze over you. This one's a thinker.

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Profound

See it if If you like dramas with great story telling and keep you on the edge of your seat tension.

Don't see it if If you like musicals and light hearted shows.

Funny, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You want to see a terrifically acted and staged presentation of an American classic. Sheppard is a true original. Amy Madigan is electric.

Don't see it if You only like light entertainment. This is funny, dramatic and thought provoking.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if this classic Pulitzer Prize winning drama. This production is engaging and offers a mostly solid cast. Ed Harris anyone?

Don't see it if you dislike thought provoking, symbolic theater pieces. This is a funny play but it's also very dark with twists and turns.

Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful

See it if you enjoy Sam Shephard, this is his best play

Don't see it if absurdist and surreal comedy and drama

Great acting, Edgy, Original, Riveting, Quirky

See it if You want to see a great performance by Ed Harris in a fine revival of Sam Shepard's engrossing show.

Don't see it if You are not into quirky plays about dysfunctional families. This one is REALLY dysfunctional.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense

See it if Great performances by all the cast. Subtle humor, intense drama and well, it's a Sam Shepard play...

Don't see it if You're not a Sam Shepard fan or if you don't like intense family drama

Absorbing, Funny, Refreshing, Great acting

See it if You want to see a classic play being done in a classic way

Don't see it if You can't sit thru 2 hours of a show with no intermission

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you like Sam Shepard plays and love really good acting

Don't see it if you don't like depressing and dark shows

Plain, Epic, Resonant

See it if you want to see masterful contributions from many in the cast, especially Ed Harris and Amy Madigan.

Don't see it if you've done the Sam Shepard route.

Absorbing, Great acting, Deep

See it if you like Sam Shephard's darkness

Don't see it if you are looking for an uplifting story.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Shocking

See it if You enjoy Sam Shepard....bizarre play....great acting. Ed Harris is amazing.

Don't see it if Do not like disturbing subject matter

Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see a great collaboration between a talented set of actors and creative team.

Don't see it if you cringe at uncomfortable moments and want something more fast-paced.

Absorbing, Intense, Slow, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy deep thought-provoking drama about the lives and trials of a poor American family.

Don't see it if You want to see something uplifting and happy, and do not enjoy dark deep drama.

Absorbing, Great staging, Great acting, Intense, Intelligent

See it if you want to see a great production of a very archetypal Sam Shepard play.

Don't see it if you can't sit still for the two-hour running time or don't want to be made to think.

Confusing, Absorbing, Great acting, Intense

See it if you're a Sam Shepard, Ed Harris or Amy Madigan fan and/or like quirky plays where you have to connect a lot of dots.

Don't see it if you like light entertainment or want a good night's sleep after watching the end of the play.

Cast & Creatives (14)