The cast of this awe-inspiring production exhibits an eloquent, impassioned control over Sam Shepard’s language and imagery in his massively complex 1979 Pulitzer winner. First-time director Hans Fleischmann keeps the story, about a rural Illinois family sinking into spiritual ruin in the aftermath of a horrifying infanticide, in sharp focus but leaves its mystical interludes mysterious and thus resonant. The actors’ light touch with the weighty material allows the script’s humor to flow freely throughout this staging’s expertly paced two and a half hours. Fleischmann’s accomplishment is all the more remarkable considering he had little time to prepare. Mary-Arrchie’s producing director, he was slated to act in Buried Child until a month ago, when a better person for the part showed up and Fleischmann relinquished it. Then, at the last moment, he jumped in to direct–and banged together one of the best shows of the year. Through 12/18: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company, Angel Island, 735 W. Sheridan, 773-871-0442, $18-$22; no show 11/24.