Closed 1h 50m
Buried Child
Midtown W
75

Buried Child NYC Reviews and Tickets

75%
(104 Reviews)
Positive
73%
Mixed
22%
Negative
5%
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.

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Member Reviews (104)

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40
Overrated, Slow, Confusing, Disappointing, Insipid

See it if you love Sam Shepard's work. I don't so, naturally, this production was disappointing to me. Some, but not all, of the acting was strong.

Don't see it if you want a plot that makes sense; there are so many red herrings that if feels like Shepard forgot what he was doing.

45
Confusing, Disappointing, Intense, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if you like thought-provoking, open ended Sam Shepard plays. Ed Harris is fantastic but some of the younger actors don't match his skill.

Don't see it if you don't understand Sam Shepard or if you want a show where all loose ends are tied up. This isn't like that.

Critic Reviews (38)

February 17th, 2016

"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."
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February 18th, 2016

"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."
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February 17th, 2016

"Unfortunately, and despite two excellent performances, neither story seems terribly urgent in the New Group’s limp revival...Ed Harris, all gaunt charisma, brings specificity and gravity to a role that can sometimes seem merely symbolic…And as Halie, Dodge’s wife, Amy Madigan imbues that chatterbox harridan with an angry dignity that helps balance the tale even if it does not always seem authorized…Once we get past Dodge and Halie, though, the production starts to wobble."
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February 17th, 2016

"What once seemed so provocative, so daring in its assault on the American family and society in general, now comes across as windy and pretentious…For 'Buried Child' to have the desired impact, it must be presented with a bracing theatricality that this tame production never musters. Director Scott Elliott gives the work a naturalistic treatment that only emphasizes its strained aspects...The performances are somewhat disappointing as well."
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February 17th, 2016

"Shepard’s theatrical idiom is stark poetic realism that gradually gives way to surreal lunacy...Shepard’s idiosyncratic style is not for the faint of heart, as this tentative production illustrates. In general, the actors seem all too aware that they’re acting in a seminal 20th century work about the collapse of an agrarian economy, the breakdown of the family and the death of the American Dream. They should keep a closer eye on Harris, "
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February 17th, 2016

"A fine but wayward cast led by Ed Harris and Amy Madigan makes an almost unwatchable mess of Sam Shepard’s ferocious drama 'Buried Child'...'Buried Child' is a family melodrama in which an American dream — of abundance, familial love — are subsumed in a putrifying reality that can only pass down from one generation to the next. All sense of this is absent from Elliott’s production, which speeds by in a single act as if to caution us against thinking too hard about how clueless it is."
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February 19th, 2016

“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.”
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February 17th, 2016

"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."
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February 17th, 2016

"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."
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February 17th, 2016

"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."
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February 18th, 2016

"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."
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February 17th, 2016

"Before the production has passed the half-hour mark, it becomes apparent that something is critically, possibly fatally, off. If Elliott's company has a pretty firm grip on the play's humor, they are fairly hopeless at conjuring the menace, the all-devouring rage that also lurks inside Shepard's characters...This production fitfully captures the bleak humor in Shepard's dialogue, the darker notes are left mostly unstruck."
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February 17th, 2016

"'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."
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February 18th, 2016

"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."
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February 17th, 2016

"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."
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February 17th, 2016

"'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."
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February 18th, 2016

"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."”
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February 22nd, 2016

"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."
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T
February 25th, 2016

“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.”
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March 3rd, 2016

"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’.”
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C
February 18th, 2016

"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."
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March 4th, 2016

"This is a play in which a very special atmosphere must prevail but, apart from Mr. Harris’s vivid performance...the production fails to resonate...Straightforward naturalism dominates, very little in Mr. Elliott’s staging...suggesting Shepard’s surrealistic underbelly. Although written in three acts, the play is performed for an intermissionless hour and 50 minutes, which only increases the feeling of drudgery. And, despite scattered laughs, the play’s rich vein of humor is barely evident."
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February 17th, 2016

"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.""
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February 17th, 2016

"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."
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February 17th, 2016

"Despite the insightful, ever-challenging presence of Ed Harris and Amy Madigan as the bedridden drunken Dodge and his pious, hypocritical wife, Halie, director Scott Elliott’s revival has a matter-of-factness that undercuts both the mythic and Gothic delights of the dark tragicomedy…Shepard says he wanted the play 'to destroy the idea of the American family drama.' 'Buried Child' still has the power to do that, but it needs a sharper, heavier mallet than it gets here."
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February 19th, 2016

“Imagination is mostly lacking in a revival by the New Group and directed by Scott Elliott that feels moored to the ground…You never really care. Wolff and Farmiga are particularly adrift…The miracle is that throughout it all, Harris is magnetic. I'll need to wait for another production to get a better sense of the potential of ‘Buried Child’. But for Harris, no further proof is needed.”
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March 1st, 2016

"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."
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February 18th, 2016

"Sam Shepard's 'Buried Child' can be played for humor or for horror – or, best option of all, for both. Unfortunately, the soggy revival by the New Group that opened Wednesday night doesn't have enough of either quality to make for a very satisfying evening...When the big revelation of the family secret comes at the end, it's intellectually shocking but dramatically inert. With ineffective buildup, there's no payoff."
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February 18th, 2016

"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."
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February 20th, 2016

"It's been 20 years since the Broadway revival of 'Buried Child,' and the production by The New Group suggests that Sam Shepard’s 1978 Pulitzer Prize-winning play has lost some luster...Director Scott Elliott brings out the humor, although the two younger cast members pale in gravitas and skill compared with the superb veterans. Elliott also creates a terrific sense of febrile menace and poisoned trust...But 'Buried Child,' for all the vigor of its performances, feels just a bit stale."
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February 18th, 2016

"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."
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N
March 10th, 2016

"Shepard’s weird mix of absurdity and dysfunction in this family drama is both oppressive and unnecessarily distasteful. And director Scott Elliot’s decision to eliminate an intermission hardly made the show more bearable...Harris gives Dodge a strange humor that borders on the likable...None of the other actors measure up...As the shock value fades the flaws in the plot and characterizations seem to grow. After the dust settles on this 'Buried Child,' one must ask, who cares?"
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March 16th, 2016

"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."
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February 17th, 2016

"Shepard's play melds naturalism and symbolism, with each character's flaws representing something larger and deeper...Fights are fought and secrets are told, but in 'Buried Child' the truth remains elusive, and redemption is not on the menu...I wish the other performances were up to [Ed Harris'] subtle, real, weirdly beautiful turn. Not that the others are bad--in fact, most are excellent. However, under Scott Elliot's uneven direction, they sometimes seem to be in different plays."
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February 17th, 2016

"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."
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February 17th, 2016

"It’s surprising, keeping in mind the play’s title and subject matter, just how funny Mr. Shepard’s work is, especially in Mr. Elliott’s hands. This abundance of humor, rich characters, dynamic dialogue and terrific performances, make watching The New Group’s production a worthwhile experience. Yet the play itself, for all its virtues, doesn’t quite deliver...It feels banal...In the end, while the play supplies tension throughout, it offers no revelations, only statements."
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February 17th, 2016

"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."
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Z
March 29th, 2016

"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."
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