BUG, London, to 07 May

by Tracy Letts.

Found, to 07 05 16
111 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DT to 7 May 2016.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wes & Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 50 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 020 74780100
Review: William Russell 29 March.

Black comedy about what They are possibly doing to Us
Part horror story, part of a long tradition of tales about how the Pentagon gets up to no good in the name of what it considers to be the greater good, Simon Evans’ staging of Bug fails to induce the necessary feeling that what we see could just as easily be happening to us. Somehow the events in the run down Oklahoma motel room, home to cocktail waitress Agnes White (Kate Fleetwood splendidly seedy and desperate, a woman on the downward slope) never prove chilling and sometimes turn out to be laughable.

Laughter is arguably an essential ingredient of a horror tale, the release for the audience when the unthinkable does not happen. But here it occurs because what happens is just plain daft.

Letts’ play, written in 1996, is about Kate, a party girl, who finds herself stuck after a night on the booze with her lesbian friend Ronnie, with hunky Peter (James Norton), a veteran of the Iraq war. He is very evasive about who he is and where he is from. But they click, and it turns out he has gone AWOL for at first unexplained reasons.

In the meantime her ex husband, a convicted on parole, turns up seeking accommodation and apparently threatening her, although, a punch on the nose apart, he is irrelevant to the goings on which involve the neurotic Peter, well done by Norton, sinking ever deeper into his delusions, if indeed they are delusions, and taking the fragile Agnes with him.

Letts’ purpose was quite obviously to write about the fear that pervades our lives today, the fear of what They are up to, the fear of mental or medical experiments on unwitting victims like serving soldiers carried out by the military establishment, the fear of what the fanatic can do, and of the dark at the top of the stairs.

The dialogue is brisk, the performances are very good even if, the two leads apart, the other characters are simply there to fill space, and the motel room set – the audience is seated around the bed on which much of the action takes place – is impressively claustrophobic.

It all ought to end leaving one appalled and horrified as the delusions, if they are delusions, result in a catastrophic decision by the couple to resolve things. In fact, while reaching for the anti mosquito spray, one sees what they do as just another bit of over-egging the dramatic pudding.

Agnes White: Kate Fleetwood.
Peter Evans: James Norton.
Ronnie: Daisy Lewis.
Jerry Goss: Alec Newman,
Dr Sweet: Cari Prekopp.

Director: Simon Evans.
Designer: Ben Stones.
Lighting Designer: Richard Howell.
Composer & Sound Designer: Edward Lewis.
Associate & Movement Director: Oliver Kaderbhai.

2016-03-30 12:49:29

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