Cold Comfort Farm

Sam Shepard's Buried Child unearths scary secrets at KDT; bad bedside manners in Medicine, Man

Buried Child doesn't end when the lights come up. Shepard won't make it that easy. And live theater this good, especially in a space as intimate at KDT's, puts us close enough to the living, breathing bodies on the stage that the experience feels almost too real. This play leaves a legacy like few others. It haunts the thoughts and nicks a few new little scars on the soul. I'm sure they'll heal. But till then, I'm sleeping with the lights on.

What they're doing at Kitchen Dog Theater is art. What they're doing at Theatre Three right now is Medicine, Man. Written by Jeffrey Stanley, it's a two-act something or other about a beer-chugging Southern good ol' boy whose mama lies in a coma because a doctor prescribed a new cancer drug that shut down her kidneys.

Calvin Barker (Scott Latham) is twitchier about missing the NASCAR Pepsi 400 on TV than he is about seeing to his mother's dire medical condition. Until, at her bedside, he meets Dr. Morrison (Kerry Cole), a pretty lady who flirts with him so he'll consent to letting her put Mom on dialysis so she, the doc, can write a journal article about the whole mess.


continues through April 30 at Kitchen Dog Theater. Call 214-953-1055.

Enter Calvin's bossy twin sister, Tracy (Diane Worman), who insists their mother had a living will that precluded any last-ditch life-saving. There's also a mysterious character named "Swimmer" (R Bruce Elliott), an American Indian shape-shifter who walks through walls and occasionally talks in a voice that sounds exactly like Joe Sears as Aunt Pearl in Greater Tuna.

In script form, this reads like a situation comedy with one or two funny lines per page. On its feet, however, this play needs a surgical scene-ectomy. Long sections leave Calvin alone onstage talking on the phone. At one point he calls his mother's minister (Dan Nolen Jr.) and asks that he come to the hospital. Then, get this, Calvin hangs up and strums a guitar for what seems like hours until the preacher arrives. On film or TV this could be accomplished with a quick cut. In live theater, we're left figuring out how far the preacher lives from the theater and why he doesn't get here already.

A glance around the audience after intermission found many of Theatre Three's elderly stalwarts with their heads drooped to their chests. I think I even nodded out for a wink or two. They should post a warning for this Medicine: May cause drowsiness.

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