Synthesized-setting, A dual character…


In continuing studying the family dynamic, what can be most intriguing is synthesized-setting and how it develops characters with just the simple things–objects. Refrigerators and toasters. Objects, sometimes, have a way of defining people and characters. I had the opportunity to see two plays by Sam Shepard, Buried Child and True West, Buried Child at The Wilkerson Theatre in Sacramento and True West at Synthetic Unlimited in Grass Valley. Objects speak volumes. They did for me in addressing sharp uncanniness and vulnerability with two brothers. The unique, off-pink refrigerator was recognizable of the 1950s with a large, silverish bow-type handle. There were olive, green wooded windows unique to their own base. And there was a phone slightly off the hook, which helps make necessary the eccentricity of objects vs. people. The toasters were comedic relief, I think, for characters Austin/Lee. One brother is astonished at losing a writing agent to his other brother and becomes dysfunctional, while the other brother begs the question of what is the reason for competing in the first place. Both actors dualize a role, which is very effective. They switch characters–inadvertently trading roles that strengthens comedic relief set against objects, which really isn’t the premise of the play. In Buried Child, presented at The Wilkerson Theatre, a large screen window configures the roles of the brothers in defining their characters with one of them always leaving or needing to return; the screen, an effective backdrop, necessitates characters to be in the present. It’s what’s capable of being original in the sense that objects, presented in the decade itself, helps define more the objects themselves to see the inner conflict working between two brothers. Without really knowing it, the brothers, as characters, defy humanity but don’t exactly in that they challenge themselves; but, at the same, time they lose their inner battle. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Shepard’s plays.


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