REVIEW: SUDS — Buried Child
WORDS BY ANDREA ZEPHYR
Buried Child is confronting, enlightening, and consistently hits that spot in your chest that only deeply troubling news does. SUDS, with director, Gabriel Burkem, turned the Cellar Theatre into a crypt for the American Dream and any influence it would try to have on Australian society. The performance was also built out of a fantastic script written by Sam Shepard — known for winning the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (that’s kind of a big deal, okay?).
Walking into the clean but complex set design, you are forced into the cramped farmhouse where we begin. The play is a witness to a decaying family unit visited by a grandson they’ve not seen for six plus years to unexpected consequences; murder, secret, lies and incest have destroyed any remaining “family values” due all intelligent reasoning being abandoned.
Whilst a powerhouse of a play, I found myself chuckling frequently when I wasn’t clutching at the proverbial pearl necklace around my neck. The play is consumable as a two hour show (with intermission, mind you) and engaging throughout, even if you have never considered yourself a fan of American dramas.
Dodge (Liam Hurley) dominates the stage time, maybe compensating for being a failed patriarch. Liam is a key reason we are engaged from the start whilst never moving from centre-stage. An impressive feat indeed.
His opposite is Bradley (played by Nelson Scott), easily exudes the toxic masculinity which thrives amidst the play’s culture of lies and deceit. Bradley can be a little two dimensional at times due to a loss of detail in his character, but Nelson’s ability to create chilling tension on stage is unrivaled amongst the cast.
Vince (Flynn Barnard) drags recent girlfriend Shelly (Nina Bayndrian) along to his childhood haunts in attempts to find old beauty, which is nothing more than childlike fantasies.
My stand out for the show is Shelly, who was the most relatable character during the unearthing of family secrets. Shelly shows the true strength in reason despite her boyfriend’s family bullshit, bolstered by the clarity of Nina’s performance. When she felt trapped, I did too. When she was targeted, I felt hurt. When she becomes free, I feel vindicated and free.
Don’t be sad you missed opening night, as they’ll be performing until the 12th of May.