Bug by Tracy Letts

When a lonely, alcoholic, substance abuser takes in an AWOL soldier into her home, and inevitably into her heart, I think everyone’s alarm bells start ringing, don’t they? This show blurs the barriers between reality and the imaginary when the couple soon discover an infestation in the waitresses’ seedy motel room with a heavy dose of conspiracy theories and crazed brutality.

This charged psychological thriller by Tony Award and Pullitzer Prize winning Tracy Letts pivots around Peter Evans, a paranoid Gulf War veteran who becomes gradually more convinced of conspiracy theories concerning the war in Iraq and the Oklahoma City bombing, and his repeated question of ‘What don’t you know?’ This provocative interrogation not only leads the troubled Agnes White slowly into cohesion with Peter but also has you as the audience rethinking what is fact and what is fiction.

Performed by James Weisz Productions, the company critically acclaimed for last year’s 40th anniversary adaptation of Get Carter, the cast really got to grips with the shocking and disturbing elements inside this deliciously twisted and dark play. Within the intimate setting of Angus’s open plan motel room, you see the frightening turn of events unfold as fears of machines and the illusive ‘them’ takes over. Melody Roche plays a wonderfully hopeless Agnus White, with her focused portrayal of despair really drawing the audience into the action. This play addresses so many different issues within society that it seems to go without saying that each actor has to be versatile and most importantly, believable. Charlie Allen takes the audience with him on Peter Evans’ journey from seemingly harmless and simple to something much darker and disturbed. There are occasional issues regarding that southern Oklahoma twang from the whole cast but as the pace of action begins to speed up it is mostly forgotten as you join the characters in their downward spiral. Performed as an uninterrupted piece, there are times when the momentum of the action seems to dip but could be easily remedied from quicker queue pickups and snappier deliveries between actors. Credit has to go to the other cast members: Nick Bartlett who plays a repulsive ex-convict who beats his ex-wife; Mandy Jackson who delivers a brilliant bolshy lesbian biker; and Pip Henderson with her motivated depiction of Dr. Sweet.

Over the years this award-winning play has been consistently recognised, with a film coming out in 2006, however after seeing it performed as part of Brighton Fringe it seems to me its place remains firmly on the stage! Be prepared to feel movement where there is none and see things were there is nothing as this contagious paranoia of bugs and conspiracy takes over. Complete with full frontal nudity, drug abuse and shocking violence; this is not one for the faint hearted!

Reviews by Jessica Osborne Lax

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The Blurb

Mind-Bending psychological thriller by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Tracy Letts. 'Top Flight Craftsmanship' (New York Times) 'What Don't You Know?'

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