An Unburied Treasure: A Review of Emmanuel’s Production of Buried Child   

Words by: Caroline DeLoreto

Courtesy of Merrill Shea

This is the only place it’s raining. All over the rest of the world, it’s bright, golden sunshine” – Dodge, Act I 

The Emmanuel College Theater program presented the playwright, Buried Child, on opening night on February 18, 2022, in the auditorium of the Eisner Administration Building. The amazing work of the director, Julia Burke, breathtaking performances by all seven cast members, and diligent work from the stage and light crew made this play a must see. 

Picture it; a rundown, gray farmhouse in the American Midwest where the backyard is a barren, sour abyss deprived of crops where the rain never stops. Inside, a lone, blue sofa in the middle of the dirt-colored living room, cigarettes in ashtrays reachable at any moment with turnover Bibles on wooden side tables, and a blue record player off to the left side of the room playing cheery fifties music.  

It is not much, but it is home. However, the family that inhabits it is anything but simple. They are all complicated individuals who all have a common goal; to keep their family secret hidden from the world. 

Buried Child, written by Sam Shepard and the winner of 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, takes the audience on a trip into the lives of a family with a very sinister secret. The secret being the buried child in the farm’s backyard of who is regarded as the product of the incestuous relationship between the mother and her eldest son and how all the character’s reactions to it snowballs into the destruction of the family. Speaking to the overwhelming themes of family and its demise and grappling with the failure of the American Dream, this play delivers a sense of dread while also incorporating humorous moments throughout the three-act play. 

Julia Burke, Emmanuel College Senior, directed this production for her Senior Capstone project. Her strong talent for directing speaks overwhelming volumes with creative approaches, casting, and amazing leadership shown throughout the production.  

Burke spoke about the play saying, “I chose to direct because going through the four years here it would be an awesome experience with building up the set in here and being able to choose a play at a college level where college kids will be able to handle this.”  

With eight years of directing and double majoring in Theater and Communications, Burke continued with, “Scott Gagnon, the Department Chair and professor of my dramaturgy class, he just randomly gave me this play to study for my sophomore year and I did not really fall in love with it when I was reading it, but then I was like ‘ there is something in this that I really want to put it on stage,’ and there was something about it spoke to me.” 

Courtesy of Merrill Shea

Burke then goes on to say how the cast are all “firecrackers on their own.” The energetic performance of everyone in the cast made the show a wonderful experience.  

Senior, Nolan DuPont Love, performed the lead role, Dodge, a witty, sarcastic 70-year-old man who is the patriarch of the household, with passion and made the audience laugh at times considering the morbid atmosphere. Love enjoys this show for it “tells an important story of family dynamic of essentially society as we know it today and what’s wrong with it.” 

The other cast members Sarah Melloni, Riley Flynn, Cassidy Guimares, Ryan Guimares, Elizabeth Hughes, and Anthony Melchionda gave powerful performances keeping me on my toes the entire time. All the cast exhibit clear talents of acting and I was impressed by all their performances. 

Of course, the brilliant work of the stage, sound, and lighting crew complimented the actors and set beautifully. All did a wonderful job with everything, especially when thunder struck at times when I jumped in my seat.  

Overall, the Emmanuel College Theater Program made this production of Buried Child a lovely way to spend your Friday night. I personally am excited to see what the program will accomplish in the future.