The Drama of Buried Child

AstonRep Theatre Company's revival of Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Buried Child by Sam Shepard is now playing at The Edge Theater on Chicago's North SIde.

Your Chicago Guide’s tickets for two to the press viewing of Buried Child courtesy of AstonRep Theatre Company.

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Production photo by Paul Goyette

AstonRep Theatre Company has launched its 15th and final season with a robust revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Buried Child. Directed by the AstonRep ensemble member Derek Bertelsen, the show is playing through November 19, 2022 at The Edge Theater on Chicago’s North Side. Dark and brooding, this 1979 Pulitzer Prize winner – Drama is surprisingly fast-moving, which leaves the audience gasping and guessing.

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Production photo by Paul Goyette

Set in America’s heartland, Sam Shepard’s powerful play details with shocking hilarity, the disintegration of the American Dream. When 22-year-old Vince unexpectedly shows up at the family farm with his girlfriend Shelly, no one recognizes him. So begins the unraveling of dark secrets. A surprisingly twisted look at disillusionment and morality, Shepard’s masterpiece is the family reunion no one anticipated.

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Production photo by Paul Goyette

Shepard’s intention was to create a narrative that communicated and reflected the frustrations of American people, but at the same time was engaging and entertaining. The drama is set in a context of the average farming family, and centered around universal issues of the disillusionment with the American dream and the traditional patriarch. Buried Child reflects the frustrations of the average Joe. The postmodern style that Shepard uses incorporates surrealism in the realistic frame of a family drama. The effect is visceral. Shepard is able to conjure things in the imaginations of people that evoke and harness the experiences of his audience. The play at its most raw is imminently relatable.

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Production photo by Paul Goyette

Buried Child is essentially a family drama, however surreal. The three-act structure, the immediate time frame and the setting of the play in reality give it an overall realistic appearance. Yet the use of symbols such as the corn and the rain, and actions like the multiple burials of the patriarch are surreal or dreamlike. The humor is also an essential element of style, giving the play sardonic noir feel.

Sam Shepard in Buried Child: “You can’t force a thing to grow. You can’t interfere with it. It’s all hidden. It’s all unseen. You just gotta wait til it pops up out of the ground. Tiny little shoot. Tiny little white shoot. All hairy and fragile. Strong enough. Strong enough to break the earth even. It’s a miracle.”

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Production photo by Paul Goyette

Without giving much away, at the core of Buried Child are unconscionable acts, perpetrated by characters both written and portrayed on stage as an all-American family next door. One never does know how deep and dark some waters run. Buried Child is a darkly comic portrait of a family brought to its knees by incest, betrayal, adultery, and murder. This is definitely not Norman Rockwell’s America.

AstonRep Theatre Company’s Buried Child is now playing at The Edge Theater, 5451 North Broadway, in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood.

Tickets are available at or by calling (773) 828-9129.