Reviewers are advised never to speak in the first person when constructing a review, but I’m going to break form. Sometimes, a show is so good that you just have to take a moment to come out and say, “I loved this show,” and I really did. Written by Tracy Letts and performed by the Raleigh Ensemble Players, under the direction of C. Glen Matthews, Bug has everything a truly original and provocative show needs — strong performances, a riveting story, and a nice dose of crazy.
All the action takes place in small room at a no-tell motel, and the set is realistic down to the tiny bathroom and the cheap plastic salt and pepper shakers on the table. The audience is quickly introduced to the room’s lone permanent inhabitant Agnes White (Leanne Norton Heintz). Heintz sympathetically portrays the hard-partying but sad Agnes, who must deal with an abusive ex-husband who may pop up at any moment, as well as the pain of a missing child.
Heintz’s performance is perfect right down to the smallest detail, including cocaine-induced sniffles and a lost and wounded look in her eyes. That look disappears, however, when Agnes meets homeless Peter Evans (Jesse Janowsky).
Peter tells Agnes he can “see things” that other people can’t, and the two quickly connect. Janowsky’s Peter is intense, bizarre, childlike, loveable, scary — all at the same time.
The fine supporting cast includes Page Purgar as Agnes’ best friend, RC; Peyton Merrick as Agnes’ White-Trash-as-you-can-get husband; and John Jimerson, who plays Dr. Sweet. Telling too much about his role, however, would spoil the rollercoaster ride and heart-pounding suspense that unfolds during the show.
This dark play benefits from some truly awesome lighting choices. Viewers are often plunged into complete darkness or surrounded in ultra-bright light, but it’s always the right choice for the particular scene. Musical choices also complement the action well. The small space of REP’s Upstairs Studio gives the show the perfect intimate feel. The characters are right there — close enough to touch — even when things get so emotionally charged that viewers might wish they weren’t. Everyone will be sucked in by Bug and will leave questioning the experience and their own reactions to it. Don’t miss this show.
Bug will run through Saturday, Nov. 20th. Seats are limited, so tickets should be reserved in advance.
SECOND OPINION: Nov. 3rd Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Byron Woods (who awarded the show 4 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/bug-gets-under-your-skin-at-rep/Content?oid=1770910; and Nov. 3rd Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/11/03/776558/bug-crawls-with-paranoia.html. (To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Oct. 28th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/10/raleigh-ensemble-players-halloween-show-is-bug-an-eerie-psychological-thriller-by-tracy-letts/.)
Raleigh Ensemble Players presents BUG at 8 p.m. Nov. 4-6 and 11-13; 7 p.m. Nov. 7 and 14; and 8 p.m. Nov. 18-20 in the REP Upstairs Studio, 213 Fayetteville St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $20 ($15 students and educators, seniors, and active-duty military personnel), except $10 Student Rush Tickets (available at the door 10 minutes before curtain).
BOX OFFICE: 919/832-9607, email@example.com, or http://www.realtheatre.org/box_office.html.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 8 p.m. Nov. 5th performance.
The Play: http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=3452 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bug_(play) (Wikipedia), and http://www.lortel.org/LLA_archive/index.cfm?search_by=show&id=3442 (Internet Off-Broadway Database).
The Film: http://bugthemovie.com/ (official website) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0470705/ (Internet Movie Database).
The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracy_Letts (Wikipedia), official website), http://www.lortel.org/LLA_archive/index.cfm?search_by=people&first=Tracy&last=Letts&middle= (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=379129 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0504832/ (Internet Movie Database).
To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts & Entertainment reviews online, click https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/.