play four: buried child

Patti and Sam. So young. So fine.
Patti and Sam. So young. So fine.

Author: Sam Shepard

Published: 1978 (won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize)

Synopsis: Focused on the fragmentation of the Midwestern nuclear family that was central to the American dream. Vince returns to his family home to introduce girlfriend Shelley after a six-year absence. He finds a violently dysfunctional family who barely recognise him: his dying grandfather, the alcoholic Dodge; his mostly absent grandmother Halie; his father Tilden, whose mind seems to have stopped; his uncle Bradley, who chopped off his leg with a chainsaw. They are corkscrewed around a secret that slowly forces itself to the surface.

What moved me: the way Shepard stretches his imagery. Tilden enters the space with his arms full to brimming with ears of corn, and later with bushels of carrots; the way Halie enters the space “dressed completely in black, as though in mourning. Black handbag, hat with a veil, and pulling on elbow length gloves” and returns (ostensibly from the same outing) “wearing a bright yellow dress, no hat, white gloves and her arms are full of yellow roses.”

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