By Tracy Letts
Directed by Martin White
With Ella Caldwell, Kat Stewart, David Whitely, Joe Clements & Gary Files
GREEN ROOM AWARDS: Won Best Actress: Kat Stewart (The Shape of Things/Bug)
Set Design by Anna Cordingley
Lighting by Stelios Karagiannis
Sound by Gus MacMillan
Stage Manager Jess Lee
Assistant Stage Manager Jason Haillay
Bug (24 Aug – 25 Sept, 2005) Chris Boyd, Herald Sun 31/08/05
THIS is one of those Star Trek holodeck plays where you’re always conscious of the theatre walls behind the set. Behind each door is a dark void. Characters exit and vanish utterly. They don’t have a life outside the tiny bedsit set. They exist only when they’re on.
But, for once, that’s not an accident or a mistake. This play by Tracy Letts is an incredibly claustrophobic yarn about sexually transmitted paranoia.
Peter, a survivor of the first Gulf War, and Agnes, the estranged wife of a jailed crim, hook up after being introduced by Agnes’s Goldilocks lesbian friend Ronnie (Ella Caldwell).
He’s paranoid about the bugs and health problems he’s sure he has picked up in the Middle East; he’s certain he’s been experimented upon by his government and the US military. And she’s (rightly) paranoid about her violent, irrational beast of a husband who’s just been released from prison.
The scene is set (literally) by designer Anna Cordingley who gives us a wedge of a squalid little single-bedded motel room and lighting designer Stelios Karagiannis. Together, they work magic. The room has a life of its own.
The director sets a cracking pace, lines tumble across one another and the humour is completely stripped from this wacko X-Files thriller. It’s a wild and unsubtle ride, but the cast of five give it everything. To the credit of David Whiteley (Peter) and Kat Stewart (Agnes), they don’t burn out by interval.
Joe Clements’ cameo as the crim husband is ferocious, awesome. It’s a pity the character isn’t as convincing as the performance.