So – a couple of Sam Shepard plays in the West End doesn’t mean the Americans are coming! Am I right? Retarded trailer trash and hill billy red necks is not the US of A that I know and love. Hell – I’ve seen Ed Harris in the films and I know what it’s like over there.
And now they’ve sent us Ed Harris. Yes – that Ed Harris – the West World Ed Harris! And they put him in a play about a Buried Child – a major league depressing piece of writing about spontaneous crop resurgence mythically fertilised apparently by invoking the memory of the eponymous infant, along with some ‘hill billy hand down the throat of a pretty young thing’ action. It’s a kinda weird recycled ‘Homecoming’ but, contrary to what the writer’s PR would have you know, it’s no classic. In fact, nor was Fool for Love at Found 111. I’m not convinced it’s really fully formed entertainment either. (You can read what grown-ups think here.) But, like me you probably don’t care. You don’t care that the cast cover the full gambit of believability – from Ed to dead, so to speak; you don’t care that the whole thing goes on for ages and ages (two intervals!) and you don’t care that actually you don’t care about the characters at all.
Because it’s got Ed Harris in it. And that’s why we go. To see a consummate actor somehow ensnare an audience through the unspoken power of charisma or presence or whatever witchcraft or magic dust he uses – and hold on to it until the end of a very long play. To experience Ed Harris is to experience a real star. I guess he’s a real inspiration to budding actors – and a sobering dose of reality to resting ones. Ed’s just got it and, in spite of the play, we are the richer for the experience.