Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Infestation"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Beverly Creasey

Ten Billion Bugs
Can't Be Wrong

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

Bugs are mighty popular this season at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre. Earlier this year "Bug" writhed on the very stage where an "Infestation" is now rampant. Payne Ratner's maniacal romp, a la Joe Orton and Harold Pinter, pits man against creepy-crawlers, aliens, and the most formidable of foes --- his mother.

John Kuntz, Boston's own man of a thousand faces, does battle against seen and unseen forces trying to evict him from home and hearth. The exterminators are (gasp) his own mother and a Raid-toting psychopath (Hey, wait a minute, they're All psychopaths!) who has captivated mother's evil little heart.

It turns out sonny's heart is even more diabolical than mom's, so you know you're in for some serious laughter. Ratner's dialogue is brilliantly wacky and his plot is deviously fresh. You'll have no idea where it's going. Wesley Savick's direction is liquid mercury. What a ride! It's great fun watching Kuntz implode into his own face at the mere mention of lemonade...and Karen MacDonald as mom is a gas squinting her beady little eyes in anticipation of mayhem.

Michael Walker steals the show as the beefy, homicidal exterminator with a taste for guacomole. The runny green stuff is reason enough to go (although I'm not sure I'll ever eat it again) --- but I can't say more because I don't want to spoil one delicious minute of the show.

The thrills are squeamish, but well worth the visit ... and J. Hagenbuckle's scary music will have you anticipating the chills as you shiver in the dark. Marc Olivere's lighting "terror" is hilarious. Richard Chambers' wallpaper and matching painting are bizarrely off the wall (so to speak) and Gail Buckley's costumes (especially for Russel Lees' cameo) are inspired. I could go on and on but I'll stop here because you should be running to the Playwrights' Theatre, not wasting any more time reading this. Oh, just to be on the safe side, bring along some DEET.

"Infestation" (19 - 29 September)
949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 358-7529

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide