The KTS’s production of Buried Child, directed by Thomas McCullough and Emma Weyman, is a show that has many elements of a memorable night at the theatre, but ultimately struggles to get off the ground.
The directors make some strong staging choices, such as their use of a staircase and blocking of a corn-husking scene, but fail to foster an atmosphere with enough focused tension. The constant drama within the family often feels misdirected and takes a long time to build to a satisfying conclusion. Though the pacing does improve in the second act, the directors seemed to have trouble choosing what moments of the play to emphasize, and character development suffers.
While there are some moments of chemistry in certain scenes, it is difficult to see the ensemble as a convincing family, no matter how dysfunctional their relations are meant to be. The ensemble lacks a feeling of familiarity that would make their disagreements more involved and volatile. Some exchanges feel as if the cast is only going through the motions, which are further belabored by the script’s often-wooden dialogue.
This is not to say the play was without its moments. Sean Mott, aided by impressive makeup designed by Amanda Shore, plays a convincing bad-tempered old man, expressing both bitterness and vulnerability as Dodge. His well-timed banter with his wife, Nicole Adduci’s Halie, conveys an exhausted couple’s terse relations.
Adduci plays an irritating matriarch well, but needs to vary the rhythm of her line delivery. Slowing down in parts would allow her lines to resonate more clearly with the audience. The character of Tilden had to be approached carefully, since the actor had to communicate a dark past through a disaffected, almost dead demeanor. Eric Cunningham is excellent at balancing these two elements, and his especially expressive eyes give Tilden dimension. Nick Twarog plays the earnest grandchild, Vince, with ease and compassion. However, in later scenes, the effects of his intoxication are inconsistent, affecting the realism of a dramatic monologue.
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The set, designed by Ally Soule, is creative and compact, giving the actors a variety of spaces in which to interact. Blocking within this space was especially dynamic when a large number of characters were on stage, and was well balanced visually.
Buried Child features some strong performances, interesting staging and several poignant scenes, but lacks the proper pacing and strong collective vision needed to keep the audience fully engaged.
Buried Child continues its run through Sat., March 16. All performances are at 8 p.m. in the Pit.