Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Bug"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Larry Stark


by Tracy Letts
Directed by Eric C. Engel

Set Design by Susan Zeeman Rogers
Lighting Designed by Deb Sullivan
Costume/Make-up Design by Seth Bodie
Props by Marybeth Yarosh
Sound Design by Jeremy Wilson
Stage Manager Kate Ford
Production Manager Kevin Russell

Agnes...........Adrianne Krstansky
Peter...............Augustus Kelly
Goss..................Trey Burvant
Ronnie................Kelly Lawman
Dr. Sweet...Christopher J. Hagberg

The subtitle for Tracy Letts' "Bug" is "A Paranoid Comedy" but in Eric C. Engel's fascinating production for Boston Theatre Works the slippery seductions of paranoia are uppermost. Audiences are advised that it "contains adult content and nudity" but that merely means the characters live on the drugged-out edges of society and are believably witty and aware. Letts offers several simple explanations for a fixation on "blood-sucking aphids" that overtakes the major pair of mismatched lovers --- crack, vodka and cocaine in constant liberal quantities for instance --- but Engel has heightened the effect by an express-train pace, and the vivid intensity of his actors make these insights into insanity incredibly believable.

Of course, Adrianne Krstansky's Agnes has a good reason for anxiety: she's a 40-year-old divorcee whose blandly brutal ex husband (Trey Burvant) is just out of jail and ready to move back into her life. Her lesbian drug-buddy Ronnie (Kelly Lawman) brings her a quiet, intense 22-year-old veteran of the war in Iraq (Augustus Kelly) --- the one who finds the bug. It's lust at first sight, and the pair are off on a self-destructive sleigh-ride in which a microscopic parasite (that may not even exist) is "evidence" for a heinous global plot. Not even the plausible explanation of a psychiatrist (Christopher J. Hagberg)can derail the fast flow of their fantasies.

This is a solid winner of a show. The Sound Design of Jerely Wilson makes even the blackouts between scenes eerie; Susan Zeeman Rogers' sleazy motel-room, Deb Sullivan's lighting, and Marybeth Yarosh's props, even Seth Bodie's make-up are as lovingly detailed as the acting and direction. This is not a world I'd care to live in, but everyone connected with the Boston Theatre Works production has made it a fascinating place to visit.


"Bug" (6 - 23 June)
The Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide