It was a rare beautiful sunny Sunday in San Francisco. America’s Cup festivities had Fort Mason abuzz with the kind of exuberance that can only come from the carefree joie-de-vivre of rich people and their fancy hobbies. After strolling along the waterfront and looking at all the beautiful things and people, we ascended the stairs into Magic Theatre to see their recently opened revival of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child. As we entered the theater we were transported to a decaying gray house in farm-town Illinois on a desperately rainy day. We knew we were in for some Drama Talk & Drinks.
Brittany: I’m a little confused, but I think that ‘s the intent of Shepard. It’s supposed to be a play you come away from feeling uncomfortable and confused. Like “OMG what did I just see? I just saw a family, or the remains of a family, crumble on stage”. There’s something about watching something so raw, so uncomfortable, and so unhappy. I don’t know if I’d tell people to run out and go see it, unless they’re really up for a depressing evening, but I do think it was a good production. Although, I couldn’t stand the actor who played Halie (Denise Balthrop Cassidy).
Katie: Right, it felt like she was reading directly from the script half the time. Other than her, I thought all the actors were very good. Like the actor who played Dodge (Rod Gnapp), he was really remarkable. The set was really good too. I loved the porch and the real rain.
Brittany: Yeah, loved the set. Magic is such a small space, the way they built out the stairway into the wings made the space look huge, and really gave it the feeling of a big old decaying country house. The sound design was on point too. That sad guitar at the beginning had such a lonely harsh sound. With the rain, and dirty decaying set, it set the stage for the rest of the play which is just a raw look at an American family destroyed.
The Verdict: What a depressing show. Shepard really knows how to ruin a beautiful Sunday. It was a good production, with some really strong actors, great design, and good direction, but MAN. Wear a cup because Shepard is going right for the balls with this play, and the Magic cast led by Rod Gnapp as Dodge, shows no mercy.
The Drama Talk: This show is not for everyone. If you like Sam Shepard, and therefore like having your guts wrenched, you’ll probably enjoy it. Otherwise be forewarned. As the name implies, think of the most messed up depressing things that could be buried within a family. Those will be dug up and thrust in front of the audience throughout the show.
The Drinks: After watching that much desolation on stage we needed a strong drink. Since we were in the Marina, we decided to follow the advice of Mission Mission friend, Stuart Schuffman, and head to Horseshoe Tavern. There were thankfully very few Marina folk, just 49ers fans, so we could wallow freely without the company of too many crisply starched polos and gaily printed Lilly Pulitzer frocks. The whole first act transpired during a massive on-stage thunderstorm, so Katie appropriately ordered a Dark and Stormy. Brittany contemplated ordering whiskey straight up, but it was only 5pm and we had one more show to see that day, so whiskey ginger it was.
Buried Child has been extended through October 13th, so you have a few weeks to catch this show before it closes. Tickets are available on the Magic Theatre website and are $45-55 on Tues-Thurs, and $50-60 Friday-Sunday. There’s also a senior and “educator” discount available, so if you’re either of those just bring an ID.
We couldn’t find anything on GoldStar yet, and there’s no mention of student or under 30 discounts, but Magic does say “Keep checking our Facebook page, blog and website for updates and announcements on rush tickets, discounts and special promotions.” so there’s that.