It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to the great, early plays of Sam Shepard, imitation should be avoided at all costs. A case in point: “Yosemite,” a new play by Daniel Talbott down at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in the Village. Shepard’s “Buried Child” looms large over a script that goes nowhere, leaving three young people in the woods to bury their baby brother, whose remains are in a black plastic trash bag. The eldest assumes the role of the gravedigger. That is it, until the mother shows up along with this rule of theater: once a gun is brought onto stage, it must eventually go off. Here, pardon the pun, it is used as a cheap shot.
“Yosemite” dwells in the past, has no forward motion, no levity, strains credibility and is directed with a dirge-like pace by Pedro Pascal. The cast (Noah Galvin, Libby Woodbridge, Seth Numrich, Kathryn Erbe), do the best they can with what they have. The set, by Raul Abrego, with its snow, enormous trees and cloak of winter chill was very beautiful. And the next time “Buried Child” is revived off-Broadway, I suggest you run to see the real McCoy.