by Tracy Letts
directed by Alan Patrick Kenny
New Stage Collective
It would be easiest to dismiss Tracy Letts' 1996 play Bug as a sitcom on HELL-TV.
Something niggles away under the dark comedy, however, something that director Alan Patrick Kenny identified and carefully, slyly celebrates in his passionate New Stage Collective production.
What does matter is that the production is well structured and intensely played. There are stalwart performances from Jennifer Dalton as R.C., Daniel Pitt as Goss and Drew Fracher (who also staged the violence) as Dr. Sweet. There are breathtaking performances from Sherman Fracher as Agnes -- easily the most crafted, subtle work I've yet seen her do -- and from ever-inventive Christopher Guthrie as Peter.
Act I is a directorial gem. As the pace and violence of Act II go over the top, the focus gets a whit frazzled.
Would you be jolted by Bug? Absolutely. Would you enjoy it? Possibly, but not in any usual way. Might you admire it as something truly ugly that's also art? Yep. Critic’s Pick.
It’s taken all season, but it was worth waiting for. Sherman Fracher gives one of those ‘this is why we go to theater’ performances in the regional premiere of ‘Bug’ at New Stage Collective.
So here’s the question: Is a Cincinnati theatre season-topping performance by Fracher, a riveting Christopher Guthrie, a strong ensemble, and nuanced directing by Alan Patrick Keny enough to balance off this loony play?
Well, yes. This kind of acting trumps anything.
‘Bug’ is theater as amusement park thrill ride, only instead of doing high-speed loop-de-loops, Letts sends the audience on exhilarating tunneling into psychosis.
Cincinnati Acclaim Awards:
-Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play to Sherman Fracher for BUG
-Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play to Christopher Guthrie for BUG
-Outstanding Lighting Design to Andrew Bacigalupo for BUG
Cincinnati Entertainment Awards:
-Local Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for Sherman Fracher as Agnes
Cincinnati Entertainment Nominations:
-Outstanding Local Premiere
-Local Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for Chris Guthrie as Peter Evans
-Local Actress in a Supporting Role in a Play for Jennifer Dalton as R.C.
Photos by Mikki Schaffner