POST: 'Buried Child' - secrets are toxic for a family

What's it about?

Buried Child tells a humorous yet dark story of a family that tried to bury their past, only to find out that it has come out. This revelation leads to a death and a buried child.  

What'd I experience?

It was a horrible day to see a show. Rain was coming down so hard, my umbrella was drifting from side to side. I can say I probably hit 5 people with my huge umbrella but I still found my way. I have to admit, I was a bit late.

At first I thought I had the wrong address because the building looked like a museum, but I decided to enter and a woman greeted me, "welcome, what show will you  be seeing today?" A huge sigh of relief came over me and I proceeded upstairs as quick as I could. It was 7:35 pm and the show was scheduled to start at 7:30 pm. Though I dislike late comers arriving while everyone is seated, this time I was the late comer! I blame it in the horrific weather, shame on you mother nature! When I was directed to my seat, I saw that it was a three seater and my seat was at the end in the corner. The only way to enter it was for the other two people already seated to get up. I felt guilty, so I apologized six times as I began to settle into my seat. Once I was comfortable, the show started - it was as if they waited for me before the show can begin. Thanks!

An elderly man was already on the stage, sitting on a couch watching one of those portable TVs. I thought he was a mannequin or robot. He  barely blinked or gave off a sign that he was alive. I mean his chest did not even rise, an indicator that you are breathing. I was impressed because he looked at least 65 years old.

I think I was following the story. There was an elderly couple, Dodge and Halie, living somewhere in the south. They had 3 sons (Ansel, Bradley, and Tilden). Ansel had passed, Bradley was handicapped (he accidentally cut off his lower leg), and Tilden had a mental illness. Halie was in denial about her dynamic family. I mean she tried to forget that she had a child who mysteriously disappeared one day (big family secret!) - who forgets that! Tilden, who they try their best to either keep within eye distance or as far away as possible (in another state or country). The reason, he knows the family secret and because he has a mental illness he might reveal it if someone asks.

Secrets are toxic for a family, especially if they are trying to hide it from others.

Every family has had or have a secret that is not known by outsiders - my family is one of them. Deep down inside I think that my parents and older siblings know of something that happened when I was young. I cannot necessarily pin point it, but they have done a good job of withholding it from me. I do not think it is a secret that is harmful but maybe a secret like - I was given $2000 from my grandmother and my parents decided to splurge on themselves, you know, something I would be angry about.

This family's secret is way worse than my example, their secret has to do with life and death. It is not until Vince (Tilden's son) pops up with Shelly, his girlfriend, to pay a visit that everything begins to get very weird. It seemed as though Dodge was in complete shock that his son (Tilden) has a son. I took it as Dodge was thinking - 1) how in the world did he find someone to sleep with and 2) how can a person with a mental illness have children? The ignorance that people have is just enormous!

The idea of "the secret" keeps coming up and being dismissed at every chance - it kept me guessing, what could it possibly be. Ironically, no one could remember Vince (the grandson), which was not a surprise because the family is in complete denial. After Halie reappears from a hiatus for about 3 days, she too cannot remember Vince. Shelly, who was no wallflower, was on a mission to figure out why no one can recognize her boyfriend.

Long story short, Vince returns filthy drunk and ready to get to the bottom of everything. Halie was terrified out her mind that this secret she thought would never be spoken of again was going to be revealed in front of outsiders (Vince and Shelly). Dodge suddenly says it.  He is near the end of his life and he decides Vince has the right to know. Haile had another son with another man (she cheated!), Dodge found out about it but remained married to her. I believe once a cheater, always a cheater whether it be male or female. Haile kept the baby, who the boys grew fond of, especially Tilden. The only one who was not fond was Dodge - who could blame him!

One day, Dodge decided to drown the baby in the lake. The baby did not fuss or cry. I was literally in tears when Dodge described this fateful moment. A child is as innocent as it gets. A child does not ask to be in this world, but when they do arrive in this world those responsible to take care of that life must do any and everything in their power to nurture it until it is ready to go on it's own. In this case Halie did not do that. I guess it comes as no surprise that she would rather bury the past (literally!) and pretend as if it never existed. 


Want to see it?

$30 General Rush

Buried Child
The New Group
@ Signature Theatre
thru Apr. 3