Highly Recommended Redtwist Theatre has become one of my favorite Storefronts, in that they select plays of great intensity and put them into small sets where we the audience are the perverbial “fly on the wall”. In their current production, “Bug” by Tracy Letts, we are not the only insect in the sleazy motel room, somewhere in Oklahoma ( a very realistic set by Jack Magaw, that will have many people remembering some of theri college drinking days and the places they woke up in, the morning after). This is a dark comedy that truly deals with Redtwist’s theme of the season- FEAR. But while this is a play that deals with fear it also deals with trust, lonliness and paranoia.,there is also mention of Government conspiracy and although there is some heavy hints that this could be real, Letts never takes us all the way. The story as directed by Kimberly Senior and Jack Magaw is about Agnes ( Jaqueline Grandt make this woman very real, almost someone who lives down the street that has lacked luck in her life), a woman who’s husband is just getting out of prison and who many years ago lost her young son. She resides in a motel room with a hot plate, coffee machine and small fridge. Nothing special, but to her, home where she gets all included except her phone calls). Her best friend, R.C. ( deftly handled by KC Karen Hill) comes by for a visit and brings a young man she has picked up, Peter ( yet another dynamic portrayal by Andrew Jessop, who keeps growing as an actor with each performances at Redtwist). Peter is a younger man, all alone, an ex-military man who is hiding something of his own and is also a lonely person. He has no actual home, so Agnes allows him to stay on her floor. As the days go by, these loners find themselves attracted to each other and something very special blossoms between them. During these days, they start unleashing the information in their past lives which has brought them to where they are today.
During these days , there are scary visits from Agenes’ ex, Jerry ( Tommy Lee Johnston) and a few from R.C., but of greater import, they find bugs, in fact an infestation of what we call “bed-bugs” but as this story evolves, these are not ordinary bugs but part of a plot by the government, although we are never really give a proper explanation of why. This story is not about the actual “Bug” or how it became part of the lives of these two people.In fact, are we ever really certain that these bugs even exist! It is a story about a sick person being able to convince a weaker minded person that there is in fact a government conspiracy and that people are tracking him down to use these bugs to take over the world. Is Peter really part of some major experiment by our government? Is the government holding Agnes’s missing son so that she can help them to capture Peter? Is R.C. invoved in this scheme and did she set up Agnes so that she and her girlfriend will be able to get custody of her child? Is Dr. Sweet ( a very convincing character played by Michael Colucci, Artistic Director of Redtwist) truly out to help Peter and assist Agnes or is he part of the plot? There are many questions here and to answer any of them would take away from the sheer artistry of what Redtwist does with this fine production.
What you will witness in viewing this production is the cleverness of Tracy Lettsin writing this contrived ant-government piece ( or is it?) and a solid cast of players who make the action come alive in one of the smallest of our Chicago theaters. Note: this is an open seating production and if you opt to sit in the single row beneath the Motel window facing the bed, be prepared to stay alert at all times, you will be in the action, but the actors will not even acknowledge your presence- just go with it. As I said earlier, this is a very small space and the set is filled with props and furniture ( Jenny Pinson) and unlike many plays, the entire audience must clear the motel room during intermission so maid service can come in and change the sheets and stuff ( probably a union thing) and then you will be led back in. Please note, that during this production, the theater will only have one available bathroom, so intermission might be just a few minutes longer,
Magaw and Senior have handled the costumes and lighting design for this show. While unusual, it is a sign of their having special ideas that are important to the way they wish to pain their picture of what Letts is saying. Derek Gaspar and Chris Rickett handled the fight choreography and Christopher Kriz , the sound. This is a powerful play that deals with many subjects and for those of you who are anti-insect, you may just find yourself itching , although there are no bugs in the play. Be prepared for an intense two hours and an ending that will leave you speechless, but one that truly makes sense for these characters and the love that has drawn them to each other. Fear is something that comes easily but often never leaves you. Go to Redtwist to watch just how powerful fear can be in “Bug”, continuing through June 26th with performances as follows:
Thursday,Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Redtiwst is located at 1044 West Bryn Mawr, just 2 blocks east of the RedLine ( my suggested way to go). There is parking in the area, meters until 9 p.m.
This is a small venue, so order your tickets today. There are several fine but affordable dining spots right on the street. We tried Francesca’s Bryn Mawy tonight ad were quite impressed with our dinner and desert ( a marvelous bread pudding that will knock your sox off) Theyare directly across the street at 1039 Bryn Mawr- I suggest making a reservation( 773-506-9261) so you can dine and attend the play with no rushing about- you don’t want to be exhausted before the viewing of this production. God knows, you might be after the final curtain. Enjoy!