At the very least, you’ll walk out of ion theatre’s Bug with the feeling that something’s crawling up your back or underneath your skin. If you’re the sensitive – or the squeamish – type, you may feel the after-effects of Tracy Letts’ lurid paranoid play more profoundly than that. Claudio Raygoza directs a tense, claustrophobic drama that fills an Oklahoma motel room with fear, blood and hysteria. What begins mainly as “AWOL war vet” Peter’s (Steve Froehlich) hysteria soon spreads to low and lonesome Agnes (Hannah Logan), culminating in a finale that leaves the ion stage too messy for an actors’ curtain call.
If Letts’ name sounds familiar, it’s because yes, he’s the same guy who wrote the Pulitzer-winning play (and now big-name movie) August: Osage County. Bug, too, was filmed in 2006 with Ashley Judd playing Agnes. Then, as with this ion production, the line between fantasy and reality, and between love and violence, is blurred. Who and what the bugs are will gnaw at your mind if you give these dark goings-on a chance. Bug’s graphic images and the disquieting disintegration of Logan’s Agnes and Froehlich’s Peter turn the setting into Motel Hell. Check in if you dare.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat