Bug | Picture This Productions & Griffin Independent

Bug | Picture This Productions & Griffin IndependentLeft - Jeanette Cronin and Jonny Pasvolsky. Cover - Catherine Terracini. Photos - Tess Peni.

A bed in a hotel room - a watery floral pattern - inoffensive and unremarkable. Cheap polyester carpet, like that in state primary schools - carpet that behaves more like linoleum than plush carpet. The usual indicators of a usual hotel room - a chair, a bible resting inside the bedside table draws, two bedside lamps. Not much else. It feels inoffensive, as temporary things should. Transient. Characterless. A tabula rasa for its myriad of potential visitors. Except there aren’t many visitors to this hotel room - unless you count the bugs.

Agnes White (Jeanette Cronin) is drunk. Drinking, smoking, struggling as she flicks off her sand shoes, wriggles out of her work clothes into clothes that could be worn by a much younger, more naive woman: a woman who has not lost a child. Punctuated by phone calls with a silent caller, possibly her incarcerated husband Jerry Goss (Jonny Pasvolsky), Agnes spends her time avoiding reality, swinging between substances: cigarettes, coffee, coke, cocaine - placidly moving through time. When a young stranger, Peter Evans (Matthew Walker) arrives – brought over by her friend RC (Catherine Terracini), all this changes. Peter, recently released from the American armed forces and without anywhere else to stay, is afforded the floral bedspread and space on the hard carpet floor. Before too long, dark, difficult secrets leak out of them both, and their stories becomes entangled in memories, conspiracy theories, paranoias and loneliness, as their world implodes, as a nest of bugs fester and itch under their skin, crawl through their pizza and overwhelm every waking minute.

Sydney audiences are no stranger to Tracy Letts’s writing, having experienced Killer Joe directed by Iain Sinclair in Belvoir’s BSharp season in 2008 - and soon, Sydney Theatre Company will be hosting Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Tony Award winning production of August: Osage County.

Rita Carmody’s set and design are clever and well utilized as a grey/beige wishy washy island. In conjunction with the design, I particularly enjoyed Anthony Skuse’s handling of the set re-setting, violence (choreographed by Scott Witt), and the blocking of the actors, more so, than in any other production using such theatrical devises. The set is revolved and manipulated by the actors, just as they manipulate each other and orchestrate their own demise. Complimented by (at times) beautiful soft naturalistic light by Matt Cox, this is a well designed, well produced show, thoughtfully put together by Katy Alexander.

The performances are focussed, at times surprisingly robust and tender. Bug is an excellent introduction to Letts’ writing, and those who have had a chance to see this production, will be sure to find August: Osage County a richer experience for it.

Picture This Productions & Griffin Independent present
by Tracy Letts

Director Anthony Skuse

Venue: SBW Stables Theatre | 10 Nimrod St, Kings Cross
Dates: 15 May – 5 June, 7pm
Matinee: 5 June, 2pm
Tickets: $30/$26/$23 (booking charges may apply)
Bookings: 8002 4772 | griffintheatre.com.au

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