Are you feeling a bit paranoid these days? Not surprised when some new governmental indiscretion is brought to light? Afraid that they might actually be out to get you? Are you plagued by a horde of bugs that seem to be coming from under your skin?
If you havent seen Bug by Tracy Letts yet, we here at Gothamist think you should. Its a paranoid schizophrenics dream show, and its also one of the best plays weve seen in a long, long time. Blackly comedic, you find yourself laughing until you realize all this absurdity might actually be real.
Set in a motel room in Oklahoma City, it follows Agnes a drug-addled woman hiding out from her husband, Goss, whos just been released from prison and her brief but intense relationship with the quirky and enigmatic (but sincere) Peter. When Peter wakes one night after being bitten by a bug, he and Agnes nakedly search their bed for the critters. Whether the bug Peter finds is real or not (its too small for Agnes to see), we never really know. But soon they both fully believe that theyre infested, which leads to a confession which Im not going to spoil for you. But this revelation sets them both off on a string of highly implausible conspiracy theories, linking the government with The Peoples Temple massacre in Jonestown, Tim McVeigh, and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Its laughable, except . . .
Who is the guy who shows up, first purporting to be Peters psychiatrist and finally proving that he knows more about Agnes than he has any reason to? Why are helicopters continually heard hovering outside? Who is it that keeps calling on the phone, but wont speak?
There are moments in this play that actually took our breath away, and thats saying something. The productions commitment to detail their subtle use of real-time, and surprisingly effective special effects makes it no surprise that they won the Lucille Lortell award for Best Play, as well as two OBIEs for Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Creative Team. Its a pleasure to find a playwright and director producing a live thriller that actually exhilarates and frightens. It makes for an incredible, if itchy, night out.
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[This post was written by Patrick Shearer, another new addition to Gothamist Arts. Patrick is a producer and director working in the Off-Off-Broadway theatre scene with Nosedive Productions. Why Nosedive? Because Artistic and Financial Failure Productions wouldnt fit on the postcard. When hes not writing, or doing theatre, he spends way too much time checking the visitor stats on his blog.]