Renegade's Bug Handled with Skill
Paul Brissett, Duluth News Tribune
November 4, 2011
Renegade Theater Company, which has become known for staging edgy productions, pushes the edge further than ever with Bug, which opened there Thursday.
Walking a razor-thin line between the hilarious and the horrifying, the script by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Letts is a story of love that spirals downward into madness. In lesser hands, it could be embarrassing and awkward, but Director Anika Thompson and an absolutely top-flight cast of five have made it enthralling and searing.
Agnes White (Molly O’Neill) is a world-weary and wary divorcee living in a seedy Oklahoma motel room, easing her loneliness with cocaine and booze. When drifter Peter Evans (Cory Anderson), who seems quirky but unthreatening, needs a place to crash, she invites him to sleep on the floor, from which he eventually graduates to her bed, where they discover the room has been infested by bugs.
As convenient comfort grows into love, and the infestation worsens, Agnes and Peter share secrets. She tells him of her missing son and he relates having been experimented on by military doctors, which experience has given rise to some odd-sounding ideas tinged with conspiracy theory.
Ultimately, the two are sharing an obsession with the bugs, which are leaving both of them covered with angry welts.
Letts has delivered a script loaded with both suspense and comedy, but many scenes can be seen as either tragic or funny, depending on one’s ability to view mental illness dispassionately. One scene toward the end is too long, despite O’Neill’s total commitment to it. And his finale is cheesily contrived.
Thompson handles both the routine and the extraordinary directorial tasks with equally high levels of skill. A scene in which several characters talk over one another is timed so precisely that the essential part of each one’s line is clear. And special makeup effects are handled with enough restraint that — while still shocking — don’t call attention to themselves.
O’Neill gives Agnes a palpable tension and longing, from the opening scene, in which she stares in dread at a ringing telephone, to the climax, in which she pieces together her own fantastic theory of her life from chunks manufactured by Peter.
Anderson moves steadily but almost imperceptibly from the soft-spoken stranger to the paranoid and delusional midwife of Agnes’ breakdown.
As Jerry, Agnes’ ex-convict ex-husband, Lee Gundersheimer exudes menace and potential violence every second he’s onstage.
Erin McConell energizes her scenes as Agnes’ friend R.C., a hyperactive, cackling lesbian who tries in vain to extricate her friend from the clutches of delusion.
And Jody Kujawa delivers an intelligently restrained performance as the eerily calm Dr. Sweet.
As engrossing as the acting is, it’s impossible to overlook the contribution to the show’s overall effect of Andy Bennett’s exceptional lighting, whether it’s having the entire set illuminated by the light through an open bathroom door or the change from a neon-smudged night to daybreak through the motel room window.
Bug is not a show for the faint of heart or the easily offended, offering graphic violence, the coarsest of language and nudity. An overflow house on opening night, though, included few of any of that sort, offering up a standing ovation.
Tracy Lett’s “Bug,” performed at the Renegade theatre, is the perfect cross of comedy and creepy. It will keep you itching in your seat and praying you don’t feel something crawling underneath your skin. It is hard to know when to laugh or grimace throughout this fearful story of paranoia. Or, as is the hope of the plot, is it really paranoia? Throughout the show, you are crossed between a series of unraveling conspiracies. As an audience, it is your personal duty to put the pieces of the show together and create a conclusion.
The acting throughout this production was solid - although a slow (and somewhat awkward) start. However, one actor caught the eyes of the audience on the opening performance. The character of Jerry Goss (Agnes’ estranged, convict husband), played by former New Yorker, Lee Gundersheimer was near perfection as he hooted and hollered his way throughout the set. Even as a prop malfunction sent him off script, an act of improv showed true talent and a series of laughs erupted through the audience.
On another note, the unraveling script touches on so many different aspects. The story of “Bug” could be portrayed as a comedy, a twisted love-story, or ultimately a tale of possessed madness as our main characters spiral into insanity. Everything seems to tie together towards the end of the play. As infestation of an unknown aphid worsens, Agnes’ personal past is unveiled. The conspiracy between her, the awkward Mr. Peter Evans, and Agnes’ missing son takes full-flight as the unconventional couple begins to “understand” their situation.
Makeup, if that’s what to compare it to, was extraordinary throughout this production. There was more than one occasion where audience members uncomfortably turned away as sores, bites, and guts were graphically exposed.
Everything, from the first to the last scene, flows and ties together effortlessly in the end; from Agnes’ showdown with a ringing phone, to Evans’ awkward introduction- there is no mystery as to why by the closing scene. However, there is a mystery as to “what?” What is the conclusion of this twisted thriller? Were, in fact, as everyone had assumed, Peter and Agnes deranged from their belief of aphids crawling underneath their flesh? Was the government really out for Peter? And, was there a correlation between Peter’s problems and Agnes’ past? Where was Agnes’ son? Well, here we find a question that is never quite answered. However, if annoyed (and/or) impressed by the underlying mystery, the production of “Bug” is one to remember.
The overall effect of the set, lighting, and sound does nothing but enhance the ability of the actors to thoroughly impress.
Renegade Theatre’s production of Bug is not for everyone. As graphic as the language, nudity, and makeup- the storyline is not one for the faint-hearted either. However, although the show has several uncomfortable moments- the overall effect of these moments creates an experience of a show that is quite unforgettable. The edginess of “Bug,” will both stun and surprise.
The opening night performance of Bug, directed by Anika Thompson, was an interesting show. Bug is a macabre story, perfect for the Halloween season, however some in the audience seemed like they were expecting a comedy. From the beginning of the show there were shrieks of laughter, the audience seemed as though they came in expecting to laugh and were laughing at very unusual times. Despite the unusual behavior of the audience the production was able to do what it intended to do.
The realism of the set in such a disturbing story created a scary and uncomfortable tone. The audience was greeted first by a small motel looking room, complete with the bad paintings and mini fridge. Setting the play in one room added to the feeling of isolation in the story, the characters isolated themselves into their one room and went increasingly mad, and the audience came with them. The simplicity of the set added to the raw tone of the play; the actors were often lit only by lamps in the room, real food was eaten and real messes were made. The environment was raw and dirty, the characters used hard drugs and smoked, when they got angry they threw things and made messes, all the chaos kept the audience on their toes. The flickering light of the motel sign coming through the apartment’s only window and the ominous sounds of helicopters helped keep the feeling of anxiety and uncertainty, adding to the effect of the play.
The use of makeup was very effective in making the play increasingly more terrifying. It started out subtle, a couple bruises and scrapes, and by the end it was making the audience scream. In one scene in particular, Peter, played by Cory Anderson, reveals some “bug bites” on his chest, the use of makeup combined with the unexpected revealing of the wounds created a shocking jolt to the audience that turned laughter into shrieks.
The actors did a good job at delivering the personalities of the characters. In a serious thrilling production it must have been difficult to remain serious in character when the audience is reacting as though it is a comedy. When Peter discovered the Bugs in the bed, the scene was very suspenseful, the confusion of the characters would keep most audiences silent and waiting to hear what was coming. Anderson did a good job at keeping his deranged character when the audience reacted with loud laughter.
Anika Thompson’s production of Bug was a thrilling experience, and did achieve its goal. The audience began the play laughing hysterically, and by the end was visibly frightened. With a solid cast the characters were allowed to create more and more tension in the story and bring screams and a standing ovation at the end. For this year’s Halloween season, Bug was able to bring thrills and scares when the rest of the stores were bringing out the Christmas decorations.
A play of a gruesome reality stuns audience at the renegade theatre with the play Bug. Anika Thompson definitely knew how to take advantage of the season and created a freaky and gruesome atmosphere. The set was dressed not to impress but to disturb, truly added to the performance. They emulated a rundown motel room, with walls falling apart, a mini fridge, bad painting, basically everything to make you feel uncomfortable and not cozy at all. All alone in these motel rooms the characters started going crazy, and for good reason.
Not only was the room adding to the anxiety of the characters and the audience, but the sound and lighting. Few conventional pieces lit up the isolated character along with a faulty motel sign, creating a very alone feeling. Also the noises such as a helicopter overhead did not put the anyone at ease.
The actors did a phenomenal job portraying there characters and their hysteria. At times the audience didn’t match the mood and tone trying to be created, but it didn’t face the actor. When Peter discovered bugs in his bed you, you could feel his fright as if the bugs were crawling under the chairs of the audience.
All aspects really enhanced the already talented cast, especially the make-up effects. Pete (Cory Anderson) had these nasty bug bites on his chest, which distraught the audience. Scratches, bruises, filth, all effectively created with make-up, drilling the sense of reality more and more into the audience’s minds.
Bug took us out of comfort zones and into another world, suspending us into a place of discomfort and horror. Which is was theatre is all about, losing our sense of reality for a few hours. The cast and crew did a commendable job. Anika Thomspon and her vision really shined in this piece.
Like an insect crawling on your skin, Bug written by Tracy Letts and directed by Anika Thompson can live you squirming in the seats. The Renegade Theater Company is known for their edgy performances but Bug>/em> exceeds this reputation with the amount of gore that can leave anybody uneasy. If the blood doesn’t get to you the character sure will.
Agnes White played by Molly O’Neill is weary and sympathetic. O’Neill shows the vulnerability of her character who tries to put up a tough façade by going on with her life after a tragic incident by living alone in a motel, drinking, and snorting cocaine. This mask however is easily shattered when two men enter into her life.
The first is her menacing ex-husband Jerry Goss played by Lee Gundersheimer, who just got out of prison. While Gundersheimer brings some laughs with his performance, his appearance is always foreboding and threatening to end with violence.
While Jerry is menacing, Peter Evans played by Cory Anderson was quiet and a little odd but he brought strength to Agnes with his mild demure. In the beginning of the play, Anderson could have been the quiet knight that saves Agnes. But his gradual unwinding mental health soon leads both to their destruction. Anderson’s nude scene was tastefully done and mirrors he’s character slow derailment.
The two voices of reason, R.C played Erin McConell and Dr. Sweets played by Jody Kujawa weren’t perfect characters. Both had their faults such as R.C.’s wild behavior and Dr. Sweets being cold and calculating. McConell was amusing in her little body movements and the look on her face that was mixed with emotions when Agnes finally pushed her away was heartbreaking. Kujawa didn’t have much screen time but he oozed this air of quiet deceit that just fueled the paranoia surrounding Peter and Agnes.
The set was small in Teatro Zuccone but that just helped with the feel of being enclosed and isolated, where paranoia runs wild. Walking near the stage the audience not only catched glimpses of a dirty, faded, and worn out furniture but smell of the dusty carpet and stale stench of cigarettes. Liquor bottles lay carelessly around the room that mirror it’s occupants lives.
The lighting and sound was amazing. Both gave the setting a broken hearted and quiet feeling when standing still. Such as the soft, colorful glow of neon light, hazy yellow lamp light, or the quiet tang of some lonesome country singer. But easily transformed into something eerie such as the scene towards the end with the blue-purple light reflecting off tinfoil walls, where characters walked around on stage with larges streaks of bright red blood on their bodies.
Bug isn’t a show for everybody. If somebody is sensitive to: blood, nudity, profanity, drug or alcohol abuse this show isn’t for them. Bug exposes the inner fears and insecurities that many of us face. It shows the ugly side of substance abuse without preaching how bad it is. It allows the audience to think and come up with their own ideas. It shows us how two seemly ordinary people can find themselves in a downward spiral that leads to murder and suicide that isn’t masked by prejudices by the media.
The play, Bug, performed at the Renegade Theater was definitely an interesting play. The audience was freaked out by the crazy storyline of this show. Agnes White, played by Molly O’ Neill, lived alone in a motel room, where later Peter Evans, played by Cory Anderson, joined her. He was a paranoid man, and he believed that the Army planted bug eggs inside of him, so there were egg sacs under his skin. He believed so strongly that Agnes began to believe too. There were really no bugs at all, though, and they were just going crazy. Peter went as far as killing a man to prove that it was all an experiment the Army was doing on him. In the end, they burn down the motel room and burn themselves alive to get rid of the bugs that were only figments of their imagination.
The play contained violence and nudity to make the audience feel uncomfortable. They pushed their limits by having Peter naked onstage for practically an entire scene. There was a blanket to cover him, but it did not do its job. He remained nude for longer than necessary, past the shocking point. This made it awkward to even look towards the stage. Also, when Jerry Goss, played by Lee Gundersheimer, hit his ex-wife Agnes, the audience suffered along with her.
The lighting was done poorly for this show. It was dim lighting through the whole thing, which was effective, and made the motel room feel lonely. However, it was hard for the audience to tell when it was between scenes and when it wasn’t. The lighting did not change enough, and sometimes not at all, when it shifted scenes. Sometimes, it was too dark on stage to tell what was going on.
Most of the actors played their parts well. O’Neill and Anderson, who were the main actors, were believable. It was easy for the audience to get caught up in the insane characters they played. Jerry Goss was convincing in his role of Agnes’s angry ex. He acted just like a crazy ex would, yelling and violent but then making Agnes believe that it is all her fault. R.C., played by Erin McConell ,was not as believable. She seemed awkward on stage. It made some members of the audience feel uncomfortable. She made facial expressions that were not necessary and the way she moved on stage seemed out of place.
The graphics in this play were funny, whether they were supposed to be or not. When Peter ripped out his tooth, and the blood poured out of his mouth, it almost seemed real, but at the same time the audience knows it is fake. When Peter killed Dr. Sweet, played by Jody Kujawa, and he began to pull his “guts” out, the audience laughed. These moments helped to lighten the mood of the play, and make the audience slightly less freaked out.
All together, this play may have taken it all a little too far. Most of the actors seemed wonderful at what they do, but the story was very strange and the lighting could have been better.
Renegade Theatre’s production of Bug was both shocking and disturbing. The crass language, nudity and most of all the gore of the makeup caused many audience members to utter in astonishment. The play is a combination of comedy and tragedy as the two main characters, Peter Evans and Agnes White, battle a psychotic imagined bug invasion in Agnes’s motel room home.
Molly O’ Neill plays her role well as the depressed, desperate, and abused ex-wife of former convict Jerry, played by Lee Gundersheimer, turning to alcohol and cocaine to numb her pain. The scene where Jerry hits Agnes and leaves her sobbing and completely withdrawn into herself was very convincing and evoked emotions within the audience. The scene solidifies Agnes’s desperation to get away from her ex and allows the audience to easily believe that she would start a relationship with someone as odd and neurotic as Peter upon first meeting him.
The setting of the play adds to the desperate tone of Agnes’s life. The dingy motel room where Agnes lives with its faded wallpaper, dull lighting and small quarters completes the idea that she is alone, isolated and stuck in her ways.
Whereas Agnes needs a hero to rescue her from her life she is drowning herself in, instead she gets Peter. At first Peter seems harmless, but once Agnes lets him into her home, it becomes clear to the audience that he is mentally unstable. The bugs Peter believes the government planted under his skin begin to take over both his and Agnes’s whole lives, and the audience is left to witness the two spiral further and further into paranoia and insanity.
Cory Anderson made audience members uncomfortable with his portrayal of Peter Evens. His nervous ticks upon first meeting him intensify into a deranged and maddened individual who claws at his skin and fills the motel room with bug poisons in an attempt to rid himself of his imagined aphid infestation. The makeup job on his chest showing all the blood and self-mutilation caused audience members to shriek in horror.
While Molly, Cory, and Lee played their characters very well, Erin McConnell who played Agnes’s lesbian friend R.C. didn’t play her character as naturally as the others. Her acting felt forced and overdone. Although the scene where Agnes kicks her out of the house is done well, and she displays her hurt emotions clearly on her face.
The final cast member of the show, Dr. Sweets played by Jody Kujawa, had a very small part but he was very convincing. He came into the motel room as Peter’s doctor and attempted to take advantage of Agnes’s troubled past losing her son to gain access to Peter. To Agnes he seemed trustworthy, but to audience members you could see he was using lies and deceit to get what he wanted from Agnes, Peter. His character is killed off quickly leading to the climax of the play, Agnes and Peter blowing themselves and the motel room up to end their misery with the bug infestation and state of constant paranoia.
Overall, Bug was frightening and gruesome. The main characters played their parts well and the audience was sucked into their paranoia and hysteria. A great play for the Halloween season, audience members left with chills and possibly nightmares from this production.
Bug was a very intensely gory and violent play! Throughout the horrific events of the play, it taught about the affects of paranoia, loneliness, and trust. Each of the characters was convincing of their parts and introduced a new perspective on the affects of these three categories. Peter and Agnes were two characters who had the most troubles.
Peter was always afraid that someone was out to get him. He started off by being a calm and collected character and by the end of the play very paranoid and unsettled. One moment during the action, when R.C. was telling Peter and Agnes how much information she had on Peter, Peter became very sullen. He began raising his voice and shaking involuntarily from being so distraught. The effects of paranoia on Peter’s body were both mental and physical. The way he was able to shake his body and make it seem involuntary, convinced the audience he was Peter rather than an actor in a play.
Agnes was a very lonely woman. After being treated horribly by her ex-husband Jerry, she was seeking anyone to make her feel whole again. When Peter came along, she latched onto him. He made her feel wanted and to keep that feeling she went as far as pushing away a close friend (R.C.). After Peter had a seizure, Agnes turned on R.C. and enforced her to never come around again. The feelings Agnes displayed toward Peter and the way she instinctively reacted towards R.C. convinced the audience of her extreme loneliness and willingness to protect Peter.
The night Peter and Agnes slept together and woke up to the biting of bugs, was when Peter displayed a trust in Agnes. He walked around the room with confidence in his body being visible to her. Instead of getting out of bed, putting clothes on, and then looking for the bugs, he got out of bed and instantly began checking the sheets for bugs. The extent to which Peter was comfortable with his naked, visible body helped the audience willingly suspend the disbelief that he was only an actor.
Bug was a well acted play. Agnes and Peter provided the audience with speechless and jaw-dropping moments. They as well convinced their part with exceptional composure and left the audience in wonder.
Renegade Theater Company is known for their edgy performances, and they definitely stuck to their reputation with the performance of Bug.
This show was directed by Anika Thompson, and she really had a way with freaking out the audience. The set was of a run-down motel room and there was nothing homey about it. The sofa was old, there was only one big room, and there was stuff everywhere. So just walking into the theater made the audience already uneasy and unsure about what was going to be happening.
Bug was written by Tracy Lett and it is a strange mix of comedy, suspense, and just plain old strange. Agnes White played by Molly O’Neil is a lonely, depressed lady, her ex-husband is a convict and she numbs the pain of life by drinking, doing drugs, and smoking. She meets this guy Peter Evans played by Cory Anderson who doesn’t have a home so Agnes lets him stay the night which eventually leads to them having a romantic interest with each other. They begin trusting each other and that’s when they begin to think that the motel room has been infested with bugs.
The characters in this performance completely sold the show. They played their parts like it was actually happening. They all knew how to creep out the audience too. It started with Jerry Goss (Lee Gundersheimer) who was the convict ex-husband, and he had everyone believed that he was this very abusive and mean man. Then Anderson had the audience fooled that he was this awkward and uncomfortable young man and then the story completely switches and he is convincing O’Neil that her room is infested. The two of them worked great together and they had such passion for the parts they were playing.
The sound and lighting also had a big part in the believability of the show. The flickering of the motel lamps gave the set a creepy feel, along with the constant ringing of the phone with no one on the other end. These made the audience feel uneasy, which is exactly what Thompson was going for. Also there were minor details that really added such as the flicker light outside the window leading everyone to believe that this motel is very old and not safe. Then the helicopter overhead giving a feeling of being watched really iced the cake of being uncomfortable. So many components were put in to portray the feel of this show.
This grimace show kept everyone squirming and itching during this show filled with fear and delusion. But this is not a show for those who are easily offended as this show was filled with extreme violence, offensive language and nudity. But for those who are fine with that, this is a type of show which is not experienced often. It is not often that a theater company will put on a show of such nature as bug, and if people are still in the Halloween spirit, it is defiantly a must see. The audience never leaves Renegade Theater Company disappointed.
Renegade Theatre pushed their edgy reputation even further with Tracy Letts' story of . This production was the perfect amount of comedy, drama, and of course gore.
This play was set up in a run-down, cheap hotel room, everything about the room really set the mood for what they story was going to be like. When first arriving into the theatre the audience was to watch television clips of various government run projects that have caused distress among people, watching those programs and hearing all the stories really set the eerie mood in the theatre. The first scene starts out heavy when Anges White is alone in the room and the phone keeps ringing and when she answers there's no one there although she believes that it is her convict ex-husband, however the audience never really finds out who was on the other side of that line. The second scene is when the audience is introduced to Peter Evans a friend of Anges' good friend and co-worker R.C. When R.C. leaves Peter stays and tells Anges that he has no home so she lets him stay with her for the night. The next day Anges' convict ex-husband shows up and that's when the play gets dark and the audience is shown to the kind of husband Jerry was and the kind of relationship they had.
As the play goes on it is apparent that Peter has some sort of problems and then it's finally unveiled that he was a subject for the government and that he believes they implanted something in him. Cory Anderson did a magnificent job portraying Peter's character and really capturing the almost psychotic personality that went along with the character. By the end of the production Peter and Anges were convinced that they were invested with "bugs" that the government had placed in Peter and that they were set up to meet each other as part of the experiment.
As the play was coming to an end you could see in the audience the uneasiness and itchiness that the show has caused. Certain points in the production one could feel how uncomfortable the audience was, which really made the production that much better. The Renegade Theatre Company knew what they were doing with this production and knew that a show like this would be a huge buzz and also a great success. Bug is a must see production for those thrill seekers.
With well-executed violence, excellent acting, and a whole lot of fantastic gory details, Bug made an edgy and incredible showing at Renegade Theatre.
A majority of the credit for the success of this production should go to the director, Anika Thompson. Through the scene design, lighting, casting, and the flow of the show itself, Thompson really hit home with the moods she wanted the audience to feel: uneasiness, paranoia, and horror. The flicker of a lamp, the dinginess of the furniture, the physical, tangible and realistic detail in Peter's chest bites; all of it piled up on top of each other and really kept the audience on the edge of their seats (and half-shielding their eyes).
The crux of the play hovers somewhere between reality and insanity, and a thriller with a downward spiral of the central characters is difficult to capture; not only in the believability of the acting, but in the whole plot as well. The aura is easier to project in a film, because with a movie, you can shoot different takes, add a soundtrack, shoot outdoors, zoom in, cut out, not have to project the voice, etc. So in an actual stage production, the feeling is more of a challenge to emulate and transmit to the audience. But with unnervingly realistic acting by O'Neil, Anderson, and the rest of the characters, you didn't have to work hard at all to get lost in the ever-increasing game of believability and trust. They were realistic, but wonderfully dramatic, and it was easy to tell that they immersed themselves entirely into their characters.
Even though this show may not be for the squeamish (who missed out if they didn't attend), the ones who went got a heavy dose of fear, gore, paranoia, violence, and discomfort. The audience walked the fine line between insanity and reality along with the characters. Overall, an incredible show with excellent work done by all involved with the production of this play.
Bug, written by Tracy Letts, was a shocking and intriguing performance put on by the Renegade Theatre Company. The script had the audience itching and squirming from the special effects and the spectacular acting put on by all five of the cast members.
The opening scene seemed very distant from the plot of the play. It was never revealed why the phone kept ringing unexpectedly and the audience had no idea why she was so concerned about it. There were random outbursts of laughter, as though some were going into this production with the mindset that it was a comedy. The opening scene was somewhat uncomfortable, yet if this was the director, Anika Thompson’s, goal, the actors achieved it marvelously.
Bug begins by revealing a saddened and hopeless Agnes, played by Molly O’Neill. She shows her nervousness in the opening scene and continues to develop and show a side of her dealing with addiction and loneliness all in the first five minutes of the play. Erin McConell, playing Agnes’ lesbian friend, R.C., brings Peter Evans (Cory Anderson) into Agnes’ Oklahoma motel room. When company turns to romance, things take a turn for the worst. Peter discovers “bugs” in Agnes’ bed and concludes that they are the result of an experiment the military performed on him while he was doing time in the service.
Jerry (Lee Gundersheimer) is introduced when he unexpectedly arrives at Agnes’ motel room. His ability to make the audience feeling uncomfortable and guessing what is to come is very well executed.
The play carries on and Peter and Agnes continue in their downward spiral toward paranoia and conspiracy theories. The bug infestation worsens and their welts and sores get bigger and bigger.
Jody Kujawa, acting as Dr. Sweet, comes to the motel room and tries to help the couple by reasoning with them. He brings up Lloyd, Agnes’ missing son and immediately captures her attention. Peter, however, convinces her otherwise and they develop a story about their lives being planned from the start.
The acting in this performance was raw and had the audience’s stomach churning from the realness of it. The play was brought to its full potential by the lighting design and special effects. From the motel light outside the bedroom window, to the lighting during the middle of the night, the lighting was genius. Special effects had the audience turning away on multiple occasions and it seemed incredibly real.
Huge round of applause is deserved to everyone taking part in the production of Bug.
Renegade Theatre Company's production of Bug proved to be one that that challenged how edgy a performance could be. Every scene presented the audience with anything from drug use, to full nudity and very colorful language. This, along with exceptional acting, helped make this production a huge success and a must see for all.
The Director, Anika Thomson, did quite an amazing job bringing this whole production together. From the beginning scene, with the main character Agnes White (Molly O'Neill) constantly picking up a ringing phone worrying it is her ex-husband out to get her, the audience had a sense of fear and uncertainty thrown in their face. This was continued throughout the play and it also began to grow with each character that was introduced. Thomson did an exceptional job at keeping the audience on edge and keeping their full attention at all times.
The acting in Bug was done masterfully well by all of the actors, providing the audience with very well developed characters for the audience to watch. Peter Evans (Cory Anderson) was introduced as a shy, quiet character but blossoms beautifully into crazy paranoid freak that latches onto Agnes like a bug. Anderson was phenomenal in how he seemed to pour more and more crazy on top of his character as the play went along. It was remarkable how these two actors brought their characters together and gave the play a sense of insanity that permeated to the audience making Bug a first rate performance.
Opposite of the crazy Agnes and Peter, Jerry (Lee Gundersheimer) and R.C. (Erin McConell) play the characters who watch Agnes get consumed by Peter's craziness. Jerry, being an ex-convict and Agnes' ex-husband, was a violent and malicious character that was executed magnificently by Gundersheimer. McConell brought a crucial part to the performance by portraying a good friend of agnes trying to save her from slipping away into paranoia.
The make-up was done exceptionally well in Bug. Both Peter and Agnes were scratching at their skin more and more as their "bug problem" got worse. The make-up done to show gory open sores, and the grotesque killing of Dr. Sweet (Jody Kujawa) was done in marvelous fashion, almost pushing the limits on how much gore there should be. The lighting was done in an excellent fashion being shown through just the window, or just having two lamps on. The lighting throughout the performance let the audience know exactly where and when the action was happening and added greatly to the production.
Everything about Bug made the audiences skin crawl. The paranoia, the strangeness, and the craziness all came together to make the performance one of a kind, and truly exceptional on all levels.
Bug done by the Renegade theatre was an odd play. The slow descent into madness of the two main characters was certainly not the way anyone would hope for the plot to move towards, but then again this play is not about what people want.
The set really did give the feeling of a motel room; albeit an incredibly dirty one as far a motel rooms go. To think that bugs would infest this place would not be fantasy. It even had this musty smell though if this was intentional or just what the couch actually smelled like is uncertain. The running fan of the A/C unit sometimes made it hard to hear the actors. Although one time it did turn on at just the right moment that killed the mood in a noticeably scripted but seemingly natural way.
The actors played each of their parts spectacularly. Agnes White, played by Molly O’Neill, as the nervous divorcee desperately trying to forget her past and move on with her life. R.C., played by Erin McConell, as the party hard friend of Agnes who tries very hard to help her with the problems she faces with her ex-husband Jerry Goss, played by Lee Gundershimer, an abusive self-absorbed redneck, and later tries to save her from Peter Evens, played by Cory Anderson, a seemingly nice quiet man whose slipping slowly into madness. Finally there was Dr. Sweet, played by Jody Kujawa, who offers a final chance to return to sanity. Each actor seemed to know each other very well and was comfortable with them.
Complaints were few. The nudity scene seemed unnecessary. It was already apparent that Agnes and Peter slept with each other no reinforcement was necessary. The faux drug use was maybe a bit over the top and it was quite odd that so much was just lying out in the open for everyone to see. The biggest annoyance was the scene where Dr. Sweet was stabbed by Peter. When Peter is “pulling out the guts of Dr. Sweet it was odd to see intestines being pulled out of the chest.
Bug was entertaining enough, the actors were great and the scene design was done very well but not the play itself was not really worth seeing again.
Renegade Theater Company is known for putting on edgy and sometimes downright disturbing plays. They stuck to their reputation and were not short at all with the performance of Bug.
Anika Thompson, the director of Bug had an interesting set to really gross and freakout the audience. The performance taking place in a run-down motel room which was disgusting to say the least really had an impact on every attendee. The fold out bed sofa, only one painting on the wall and broken curtains really added to this gross motel room. Walking in was enough to set each person on edge for the rest of the show.
Bug was written by Tracy Lett and it is a awkward, gross, and downright disturbing play. Agnes (Molly O'neill) is a depressed, lonely and disturbed young lady who is only trying to take care of herself but in all of the wrong ways. Her life is being destroyed by all the alcohol she drinks and is only getting worse with the drugs she uses and relationships she finds herself in. All of these bad habits are formed by her ex-husband who is an ex-convict. Through all of her troubles Agnes meets Peter Evans (Cory Anderson) who she lets stay an evening because he is without a home which ultimately turns into a romantic relationship. The two grown such a bond that they believe they are infested with bugs which turns the play extremely creepy.
Each character played their part with a lot of passion, as if the infestation of bugs was actually happening to them. Acting as if they had bugs on them made the audience squirm and believe they actually had bugs crawling on them as well. Believing that Jerry Goss ( Lee Gundersheimer) was this abusive and horrible man added to the show but it eventually turned to be the opposite. Peter was the main culprit of the disgusting bug infestation and that is when paranoia set in. This show got more and more creepy as it went on until we learned the real story, then it got extremely weird.
The sounds and lighting during the performance really enhanced the creepy aspect of the play. With dim lighting in the Motel room and the flickering of the lamp made the audience feel as if they wanted to run out the door and get away because they were so scared. The ringing phone with no answer made this play seem as if it was a terrible nightmare that you just can't wake up from. Thompson achieved what she was going for in this play with the sounds and lighting, so much that every person felt as if they were being watched and ready to be invaded by the bugs.
This show kept everyone on the edge of their seat ready to itch and slap away the bugs that felt as if they were crawling on you. This show definitely deserved the R rating that it had, some may be easily offended by the nature of the performance. Full frontal nudity, excessive drinking, drug use, and gore were only part of the offensive scenes in the performance. However, if one is looking for a disturbing and raw performance, they would have to look no further. Renegade Theater Company stuck to their roots and held a show that was disturbing to say the least.
This play was one of the most edgy and altogether horrifying plays that I have had the (mis)fortune to see from the Renegade Theater Company. Many aspects of the show were very well done, and the actors couldn't have been better picked, but the show may have been pushing it a bit too far.
O'Neill, whose character was a coke driven booze hound with an ex-husband fresh out of jail, stole the show. She played every aspect and emotion of her character through to the intensity and depth that you would expect from a great actress. She was able to bring the audience to tears, fear for her life, make them laugh, and at other times make us disgusted with her in the way she treats herself and the indignity of the way she lives.
Anderson did a wonderful job of portraying a man who escaped from a mental institution and imbued the play with such an air of animosity and distrust. Once the Bugs that seem to have infested the house upon Anderson's arrival bring themselves onto the bodies of Anderson and O'Neill is when the play turns from weird to horrific.
The Bugs manifest themselves into the minds of these two impressionable characters, one insane(Anderson) and the other lost within herself(O'Neill). The Bugs cannot be seen by anyone else but these two people, and they cause the couple who have inadvertently fallen in love with one another to be covered in gashes and cuts and "bites" which the audience is led to believe are from the people and not the bugs. The play did a wonderful job of causing confusion and sowing discord as it progresses, but the climax of the play and the peace it attempted to leave behind did not do the rest of the show justice. Coming altogether too quickly and without enough thought behind the matter.
This show did a wondrous job of the lighting, which made the scene really feel much more like a basic motel with the use of only a single light on stage at times to set the mood, and at other times, the light coming in through the window at the back of the stage to light the entire scene.
Essentially, the play was a masterpiece of problems including cocaine use, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, nudity, and mental illness. The havoc set the scene for an interesting and well put together play which the cast did a wonderful job of pulling together.
BUG is an intense ride. A psychological thriller, that creeps in slowly and builds to a rapid pace. Pulling, pinching, itching and scratching at the minds of its viewer making them think that these things are actually on their skin. The Renegade Theater Company is known for is risky, provocative and heart pounding performances, and that’s exactly what BUG was formed to be. Nothing is ever for certain in the production and the plot is full of misunderstanding and dramatic turning points. Tracy Lett’s BUG is not only about conspiracy and paranoia, but it is a conspiracy in itself, heaping layer upon layer of meaning, text and subtext; it is a virtual labyrinth of double meanings. It was the birth of a production that was meant to push the limits of everyone who was watching and made people question everything around them.
It can definitely be understood that the staging presented a challenge in this production. The challenge of how much nudity to have, how much violence to show, and how for to push the extreme emotion of the show and the actors, so that the audience could be pushed to their limits but not beyond. BUG had the ability to take on all of these things in such a way that helped the audience to be convinced of everything that was going on. The artist was attempting to achieve a balance between paranoia and being vulgar, and they were very successful in doing so. Fear, vulnerability, loneliness, and the paranoia that can result from any combination of these are only the beginning of the raw emotion needs of these characters. This is the big thing that was focused on in this production, the actors.
The actors were the ones who truly brought this whole concept to life. They had to be completely believable in all of their emotions. Agnes’ emotions of feeling lonely while being cooped up all by herself in a small one bedroom apartment. The emotions of feeling trapped, and that she can't escape the rage of her incarcerated husband. The warmth and protection that she starts to feel for Peter, and in turn she starts to trust Peter and adapt to all of his emotions. Peter feels paranoia from his past and he feels hurt from all of the former pain that he went through. Agnes starts to adapt to his emotions and because of her own vulnerability she adapts to his ways of thinking too. These characters are so in depth and complicated that the actors had to be anything but remarkable for this production to be convincing.
The actors brought to life their emotions and all of the paranoia that they were feeling throughout the show. They were so convincing that the audience had the ability to feel and empathize with everything that the characters were going through. Thanks to the brilliance of the acting in this production, simple questions do not have simple answers, but rather call into question the very nature of reality. Why can Agnes and Peter see what the others refuse to see? And in turn why does the audience feel what the characters are feeling? This is because each character in this play has a unique perspective on the world around them and are choosing to share that world with others or to be alone, on the outside, looking in but not seeing what is “there, right there”. Peter and Agnes believed that there were constantly bug’s “there, right there” which gave the audience reach to believe that there were bugs all around them. This could only be achieved by the phenomenal acting of the performers in this play. The energy, emotions and time that these actors put into this production paid off immensely, and the attempt at creating something that pushed the limits and told a story truly came to life.
Henry Pollan’s review of The Bug
The renegade comedy theater's production of The Bug by Tracy Lett was an enlightening and entertaining spectacle. The entire play was staged in one motel room and the cast was only five people. The play begins with the telephone ringing in a motel room and the Agnes, the female lead, answering it only to hear heavy breathing. From that point on the play descends into utterly entertaining depravity. We are first led to believe that it is Agnes' ex-con ex-husband Jerry on the other end of the phone however we never do get a conclusive answer. After a suspenseful series of calls and hang-ups Agnes is visited by a friend who brings along a strange acquaintance named Peter. Pete later enlightens us to his plight, he is an awol soldier who is either a paranoid schizophrenic or a victim of military testing on soldiers. As Agnes and her two friends snort some nondescript white powder, Peter smokes from a pipe. Peter and Agnes begin to bond and a romance develops, although they are only intimate once that is all it talks. Jerry then returns from prison and begins threatening peter and intimidating Agnes. Finally Agnes tires of his abuse and throws him out. While all of this is happening Peter is becoming stranger and stranger. He first finds one bug, an aphid, then more and more. He becomes entirely consumed by the obsession that he has become host to parasites put into him by the military. While blinded by love Agnes is enveloped by Peter's insanity and begins to believe that they are both hosts to these parasites, and they begin cutting them out of themselves. The story concludes when the military doctor who treated Peter before he went AWOL catches up with him, peter rapidly dispatched him by evisceration with kitchen knife then burns the motel down with Agnes and himself in it to the ground. The Renegade's performance of this story entertained the pants off of my friends and myself, however it may not be for everyone there is some blood and guts and there is some rough language, so if your planning on bringing the kids leave the young ones with the sitter.
Bug was a performance that pushed the boundaries of profanity, nudity, and violence. Starting off slow, the play quickly gained momentum in the second act. With actors that kept the audience entranced the entire play, people left asking "did that really just happen?".
The first images the audience received was a television playing clips of past mentally insane criminals. This really gave an eery feeling and a preview of what to expect. The small but detailed set, too contributed to the feeling of the play. With dimmed lights, a ragged couch, and filthy looking accessories, the audience really got the feeling of being in a "trailer trash" setting. Not only did the set appeal to the eyes, but to the nose as well. Really pushing the boundaries, several real cigarettes were used throughout the play. This may have seemed unnecessary to some, but the smell of the cigarettes brought the audience even closer to the action.
What really pulled the entire play together was the acting. Through all the violence and chaos, humor was still slipped into the play with Jerry Goss. The hated but slightly humorous Jerry Goss, played by Lee Gundersheimer, brought the audience to laugher even when the play was so serious. Molly O'Neil and Cory Anderson made everyone believe that the house was infested with bugs. O'Neil did a fantastic job as she portrayed a run down, broken Agnes White. Causing the audience to feel for her and understand her misfortunes. Cory Anderson did a phenomenal job as Peter Evans. Anderson was able to portray a character that started off a little odd to a complete lunatic. . With subtle fidgetiness and other odd movements, Anderson's body language really set the personality of Peter Evans. Although the cigarette smoke was a good idea for helping the setting, the nudity was a little over the top. Unless something was missed, Peter Evans was sleeping in the nude with basically a complete stranger. In reality, this would rarely occur. The acting really set the play but the nudity could have been left out.
Overall the play was a huge success. A mind bender that gradually gained excitement and ended with an unimaginable climax. This may not be a play for the feint of heart, but for those who are able to handle some edginess, this is the play to see.
Tracy Lett’s version of Bug performed at the Renegade Theatre Friday evening was anything but ordinary. Within this crazy tale lied a lonely soul of a young woman named Agnes, and her life living in fear before she met a stranger who happened to have a hidden agenda. The use of nudity, adult comedy, vulgar language, and substance abuse made this play extreme and shocking to a high extent and could have abruptly ended any pleasant family outing.
Opening scene included a good look at the nasty rundown hotel room which played the stage for Agnes who was awaiting the arrival of her ex-husband from prison. The low lighting coming in from the window and from above helped create a gloomy feel. While downing many bottles of booze and cigarettes, Agnes managed to stink up the theatre and provided a very real atmosphere for the night.
As the play progressed, a man named Peter found his way into her life where he was invited to crash on her floor. Peter and Agnes exchanged stories and eventually found themselves attracted to each other and this does did not fit into her ex-husband’s plan for return
A violent scene breaks out between Agnes and her ex, so Peter comforts her and decided to share his secrets of why he think is being followed and why he believes insects are beginning to show up in her home and in their bed. These stories and ideas begin to flood Agnes and the two of them begin supporting each other’s mad theories and assumptions while dragging the audience into a psychotic world. Near the end, the characters evolved into victims of a bug infestation in their minds created and resist any help they receive. This ending left the audience to choose their own reality for this play and what was concluding.
In Bug, every cast member had a daunting task of managing emotions and appearance. The use lighting, makeup, music, and props played a huge part in the performance’s extreme flow and it all enhanced the theatre experience. Fake blood and guts were used to fake deaths and wounds. Grunge music was played to help support the harsh theme. Cans of bug spray and laboratory accessories were eventually used to support the crazy insect conspiracies, and the dark gloomy lighting created an unsettling mood.
With all things considered, Bug turned into a performance with many directions and is did not welcome everyone with a happy sequence of events or ending. It takes type of mind-set consideration to fully enjoy this play.
Not for the faint of heart is an understatement for Renegade’s production of Bug. This play explores a new side of conspiracy and paranoia. The audience watches as two characters spiral into madness and insanity ultimately leading to their own destruction.
Director Anika Thompson did a good job of getting her actors, as well as the audience, out of their comfort zones. She utilized her lighting, sound, and stage design teams and especially her costume team. She also brought into the play, perspectives on issues that can be seen in real life. For example the abusive ex-husband calling and coming back for her, desperately seeking someone to love, and turning to drug and alcohol to ease the pain of loneness plagued the characters.
Agnes White (Molly O’Neal) captured the lonely divorcé struggling to get by and living in a dingy hotel room. O’Neal and her friend R.C. (Erin McConell) turn to cocaine and booze to ease the pain of their problems. Though McConell, Peter Evens (Corey Anderson) is introduced. Anderson brings a new comfort to O’Neal’s lonely life. Then the bugs arrive. As O’Neal and Anderson share secrets and stories of their past, they become convinced the bugs are taking over.
O’Neal did a great job of playing the abused divorcee. She opened herself up to Anderson. She conveyed all of her emotions and the audience could feel her desperation for wanting someone to love her. As she is haunted by her ex-husband Jerry Goss (Lee Gundersheimer), O’Neal tried to rationalize everything that had happened and why. In the pivotal scene she pieces together everything from why and how her son went missing to why she was supposed to meet Anderson.
Anderson was very good at convincing the audience and O’Neal that he believed the government was out to get him and that they had planted him with egg sacks. His nervous ticks made the audience want to know more about his character and what was going to happen. He raged when he thought about what the government had done to him. The audience could feel his anguish as he begged O’Neal to piece together everything. He also had enormous confidence as an actor to be completely naked for an entire scene.
The lighting for Bug was adequate. In one scene it was hard to differentiate if the flickering light was an intentional enhancement or a lighting malfunction.
The set was realistic as it portrayed a dingy hotel room. The old couch that pulled into a bed was prominent in the growing bug infestation. The large panels of aluminum were hung, giving an eerie feel to the stage as the end drew near.
The sound for Bug was terrible. Even though the play took place in Oklahoma, loud, obnoxious country music would blast from the speakers between scenes. Between two scenes, loud buzzing wings were heard. This was an inappropriate time to have this effect as the bug infestation scene hadn’t occurred yet. As for the explosion in the last scene, the timing of the sound was off.
The costume and make up crew did an outstanding job as the sores got more and more grotesque as the play went on. The audience members turned their heads out of horror. As Anderson ripped off his shirt the audience could see the marks where he was starching his skin to get at the bugs. When Anderson pulls out his tooth, blood pours from his mouth. The audience also notices that O’Neal had more sores on her as the play progresses. After Anderson kills Dr. Sweet (Jody Kujawa) there is blood everywhere. It was unrealistic that Anderson was pulling Kujawa’s intestines from his chest.
Renegade theater brought the audience to the edge during their performance of Bug. However it was not as well done as I would have thought. The timing and inconsistency of sound effects were poor. This play also had foul language, nudity, and dealt with drug and alcohol abuse. However the extraordinary talent of the actors could not offset the mediocre effects. Bug was interesting to see but not worth seeing again.
Tracy Lett's Bug, is most definitely a performance that pushes every boundary of live theater. From drugs, to sex, to alcohol abuse, to nudity, to profanity, this play has the audience questioning its every act.
The play takes place in a rundown old motel room, basically any burnout's paradise, where the audience is introduced to Agnes (Molly O'Neill) the "owner" of the motel room, Peter (Cory Anderson) the schizophrenic drug addict , and R.C (Erin McConell) the lesbian party animal whom is Agnes's friend, as they all are partying in the motel room snorting cocaine and drinking mass quantities of booze. The plot thickens when Jerry (Lee Gundersheimer), Agnes's ex husband, also a jail bird, comes in unknowingly and believes Agnes is still his lover.
Now, the performance's plot is tough to figure out because the main focus of the play is on drug addicts and alcohol abusers living in the same room, freaking out, and then, in the long run, Peter manipulating Agnes into thinking she has radio transmitting, living "bugs" under her skin and, in short, persuading her to take her life. But, after taking a step back, this play really is about love and seeing through the imperfections in everyone else, even though it is the most messed up romantic play ever created. In the playwright's intention to grab the audience's attention, that was most definitely accomplished, but not through the romance that was involved in the play. It was grabbed by the amount of boundary pushing events that occurred.
The actors did do a wonderful job portraying their characters in this performance. Since the play was based out of a low-income housing establishment (aka the motel room), the performers showed that they were portraying people on the lower income scale by wearing rundown clothes that were faded and torn and stretched, and by drinking low end alcohol. It was hard to tell where exactly the play took place, as in state, because all of the actors talked with a different accent. Some spoke with a moderate southern drawl while others seemed as if they spoke with a midwestern accent. All of the actors did do moderately well in "becoming" their characters. Erin McConell, R.C., definitely sticks out the most in this category. From the spikey hair, to the AC/DC t-shirt, all the way down to the sarcastic/ bad ass attitude she gives during the play, she fits the part to a "T." It is exactly how anyone would envision that character to be portrayed.
The best job done out of the whole performance was by far the lighting. From having a blue light backdrop when it was night time, to having an orange light brighten to a yellow light which brightened to a whitish yellow light, through a window to represent a sunrise, the lighting was unbelievable. Also, when the doctor was talking to Agnes in the motel room, the audience was able to tell that something was about to happen because of the fact that there was a dim spotlight that highlighted the doctor. This was so great because it seemed as if the light actually cued things to occur on stage. It was like it foretold events to come. It was great to see that correct lighting could have such an effect on a performance.
Bug is definitely not a play meant for everyone. Basically any person under the age of 18 should definitely not see this play. Other than that, this performance would attract people that don't mind absurd events happening before their eyes live, people who live the party life every single day, and mainly people who have that wierd sense of humor and/or enjoy watching extremely low budget independent films. Other than these types of people, this play should not be recommended to see, mainly because of the storyline and how random, crazy, and "messed up" it actually got.
At Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, there is a showing of “A Bug’s Life”, a Disney Original, in the Tree of Life. The theater inside has little spouts set up where air shoots through them creating a physical illusion of bugs crawling under and around the audience’s legs and necks. This kind of special presentation would have been necessary for the Renegade Theatre Company’s showing of Bug this past week. It had the audience waiting for the bugs to come flying at their faces like a 3D film.
The story starts out with Agnes White (Molly O’Neill) and two friends, R.C. (Erin McConell) and Peter Evans (Cory Anderson). R.C. leaves to attend a party and we find Agnes and Peter awkwardly getting to know each other. As the night goes on, Peter expresses how he does not have a place to stay that night and Agnes invites him to stay in her hotel room as a friend. It is not long before they are more than friends and sharing Agnes’s bed together. Jerry, (Lee Gundersheimer) barges into the hotel room and shows his displeasure with their new relationship. He realizes he has been replaced by Peter and this only makes him angrier.
We see the return of R.C. and Jerry at different times during the play, and it seems like they are the only ones with the right minds throughout the play. As Peter gets more involved with the bugs invading Agnes’s bed, Agnes starts to “feel” the bugs, also. Throughout the rest of the play, Agnes and Peter’s paranoia grows as they try to figure out why they had the bugs. The doctor comes into the hotel room and tries to persuade Peter to come with him to continue his treatment. Agnes and Peter do not know what or who to believe; so they decide for themselves what is right.
Bug by Tracy Letts is unbelievably surprising to a new theater-goer. With many eerie twists and creepy lines, the director of the Renegade’s production, Anika Thompson, had a good deal of pieces to pull together for her production in Duluth. Creating a comedic side to this creepy script is difficult, while at the same time keeping it mysterious and sarcastic. This is a hard feat for most directors. Thompson put on a very enjoyable production at the Renegade and it was enjoyable for most ages. There was quite a bit of nudity in the performance which was unexpected. In the program, it does state how there is a lot of nudity in the original script and they had to tone it down for this performance venue, but the audience was not expecting a full frontal shot from a grown man. This could be argued with whether or not it added to the atmosphere of the performance.
In conclusion, the play displayed an array of different point of views, struggles, pains, and strategies from the characters. The performance was quite edgy and could be unsuitable for young children because of the nudity and drug usage included throughout the play. Although Bug was cleverly named, there is no way someone who has not read the script could guess what they were about to see in this performance. Bug brings new and exciting intensity to the stage and keeps the audience bug-ging for more.
When walking into the Teatro Zuccone Theatre, it is immediately obvious that the Renegade Theater Company’s production of Bug , is going to be a very intimate play. The thrust stage is hardly a few feet from the front row so there is little distance from performers and audience members. From the opening scene to the last, Bug is a thrill ride of confusion and paranoia that keeps you guessing.
The cast of Bug was phenomenal in making their characters believable, even with such a terrifying storyline. Agnes White, played by Molly O’Neill, sets the mood of the show with her frightened reaction to the silence on the other end of the phone. Through the first few scenes O’Neill draws in the audience into world she lives in where excessive drugs, alcohol, profanity, and sex are the norms of everyday life. R.C., Agnes’s close friend, played by Erin McConell, then shows the audience that though Agnes lives a rough life, she is quite tame. The audience can then begin to sympathize with Agnes’ quieter side as McConell, makes R.C. seem disgraceful in her blatant disregard for rules and boundaries. Agnes becomes more pitiable when Goss, played by Lee Gundersheimer, introduces that Agnes has been a victim of physical abuse. Goss is that character that everyone loves to hate and Gundersheimer is very successful in his portrayal of the manipulative, aggressive ex-husband. This triangle of characters makes the rest of the play possible by weakening Agnes to a state where she would allow a stranger named Peter, played by Cory Anderson, to stay with her. Anderson plays Peter remarkably well as he makes the whole theater feel a little bad for him and his awkwardness. Though very personally revealing for Anderson, he even handles Peter’s nudity with ease and seems only concerned with finding the bugs in his bedding. As the relationship deepens between Peter and Agnes, the actors make it seem very plausible that these two needy characters could fall for each other and that the safety of having someone would be very comforting to both of them.
The set and props of Bug also augment the dinginess of Agnes’ lifestyle. The motel room was littered with alcohol and drugs. The high attention to detail makes the set feel very real. The lighting used in the play also added to the feeling that the play did in fact take place in a motel room. The use of the room lamps as a main source of light for a number of scenes made the intimacy of the play come out.
Another part of the props that was gruesome, but well done, was the blood and guts. In a different play it might have seemed overdone, but the excessive gore seemed necessary for Bug . The wounds actually could make a person cringe and seeing guts come out on stage was a unique experience if not a bit gross. That being said, the craziness of Agnes trying to stuff them back in made her descent into insanity more pronounced. The actors deserve a round of applause for dealing with that mess every night!
Though the acting and the set were very well done, one distracting component of the play was the transitions. The music played seemed a bit too abrupt in comparison to the rest of the storyline. If the music had faded in and out, or had been softer this could have been remedied.
Overall, Bug was a resounding success. The cast handled a tricky and bizarre play with amazing skill. Between the all star cast and the believable setting, Bug was full of thrills and chills to the last scene.
Bug was a disgustingly, creepy, mind altering love story that at the end was very interesting. From the very start it has you sitting on pins with Agnes getting mysterious phone calls where all she can hear is breathing. The setting was a rundown motel and the stage was magnificently set up in a run-down, low end manor. The lighting in this play was also something that helped set the scene, because it was always very dim and dark because of the scenarios that were taking place. But when the stage got a little darker then you knew something was going to happen. Also the sound to this play was excellent, there would be little noises of bugs every now and then to keep the audience on the edge of their chairs. The setting was just one of the eye catching things that this play offered to its audiences.
The script was brilliantly written in every aspect to make the audience feel all the emotions that the actors were portraying on stage. Seeing the story of a troubled young man trying to get away but there is just something about Agnes that is keeping him there and she falls under his madness which creates a very interesting story outline that would surprise even the most knowledgeable play critic and have them be surprised by the outcome of the production. Some points in the play that were very crucial that the cast did extraordinary on was scenes where Agnes and Peter initially look for the bugs in the bed and also at the end when they were killing the doctor and putting all of the pieces of their crazy love story together.
The acting in this performance was magnificent and one of the more convincing roles that I have seen. You couldn’t tell whether or not Peter was actually insane or actually on to a government conspiracy military ordeal but either way he made this play so realistic that sitting in the audience you got the feeling of bugs running up and down your arms. Agnes was portrayed very well and very convincing. She was just a women who was alone and unhappy with the troubled past that she’s had and having someone there with her was what she wanted but when things started to go weird, the audience could tell that she had a few screws loose in her head. All around this play was a great see and if you haven’t seen it you are missing out on a story that will shock anyone who gets in its way.
This play is amazing and should be seen by everyone who loves to see action thrillers, with some love scenes and some comedic approaches to wacky and mind altering things. This play makes you think about what is really going on in our country’s system and it the ending scene leaves you with such a cliff hanger that you have to sit in your chair and yell to yourself “But what was really going on?!” It will leave you wanting more every time you see it because once you catch the bug, it never goes away.
Tracy Lett’s BUG, performed by Renegade Theater Company, provided audiences with a chilling story full of conspiracy theories, violence, and paranoia getting the best of people. Directed by Anika Thompson, the performance was shocking to say the least, really highlighting the extraordinary makeup design and tenacity shown by the talented actors.
Tackling such controversial subject matter can be daunting for a production, but the performances from each actor showed no fear. Molly O’Neill brilliantly portrayed the abused and lonely Agnes White. Turning to alcohol and drugs to forget the memory of her lost son and deranged ex-husband, Agnes was very vulnerable and easily swayed throughout the entire production; O’Neill characterized her fantastically, especially in the scenes with her ex, Jerry Goss, played by Lee Gundersheimer.
Gundersheimer brought a character as sinister and manipulative as they come in Jerry, mentally and physically abusing Agnes in every scene they shared. He had an overwhelming, overbearing presence on stage, adding to the daunting effect he had throughout the entire play.
R.C., portrayed by Erin McConell, was never a fan of Jerry, making that clear from the first scene. Although she was mixed up with addictions and problems of her own, R.C. always had Agnes’ best interests in mind, something McConell convincingly showed in her facial expressions and body movements. As Agnes pushed R.C. away after Peter had his breakdown, McConell’s face showed true heartbreak and deception, leaving her exposed in a beautiful moment of emotion.
McConell’s character introduces Agnes to Peter Evans, played by Cory Anderson, an intellectual, soft-spoken man who works his way into Agnes’ heart. It is after their relationship grows that we learn he is paranoid, eventually passing his obsession over to Agnes by saying that the room is infested in aphids that only they can see. Anderson’s performance was excellent, embodying Peter’s quiet demeanor and odd mannerisms spectacularly.
Portraying the cold and calculating Dr. Sweet, Jody Kujawa lends a solid performance amidst the chaos. Convincing Agnes to turn over Peter in return for help finding her son, Kujawa provides audiences with a brief interlude in the madness, which eventually ends in his demise.
The makeup and effects in BUG were exceptional, creating disgusting sores and horrific scenes that made the audience cringe. The self-inflicted injuries on Peter and Agnes’ bodies showcase the exquisite makeup design, looking particularly realistic and causing grimaces throughout the theater. The murder of Kujawa’s character was also a particularly gruesome excerpt from the production, with Peter ultimately stabbing the doctor and proceeding to pull out his intestines. The addition of fake blood, as well as the effect of pulling out Kujawa’s guts, suspended reality, created a truly disturbing scene, and enhanced the terrific characterizations from each actor.
Definitely not for the faint of heart, Tracy Lett’s BUG was a well-performed, thought-provoking production that pushed boundaries and shocked audiences. Needless to say, the performance was quite explosive and left audiences searching for answers… and bugs.
This performance brought mixed feelings to the audience. There was a mixture between comedy, tragedy, and there were some gruesome parts during the performance. The audience’s reaction to the performance at the end was a standing applause. The performance couldn’t have been played out better. There were some parts that the audience was surprised at; for example, the part that the doctor guy’s guts were torn out of his body by the main male character, and the part where the doctor guy smoke some cocaine.
The play had some great lighting parts to set the mood of what the scenes were expecting. For example there was blue lighting to set the mood for the night acting like the moon was shining through the window. The window also had a yellowish lighting coming through to replicate a lamppost out side the hotel. Other lighting was a lamp on the stage; however there was a little bit of light to see the stage better, but the lighting made it look like the lamp was lighting the whole room.
The play also provided some a tragedy where the main actors thought they were infested by some type of bugs; however, they were so messed up on cocaine they were hallucinating. This performance seemed so realistic, the performers got into their characters very well. The gruesome parts looked like the bugs were eating at the main male character’s body. The audience gave a reaction as if they thought that the fake wounds were actually real. The other main gruesome part was intense for the audience to see because of the doctor’s intestines getting ripped out of his body. There was a lot of blood and his death seemed real until he was lying on the ground and the audience could see that he was still breathing. In a dying scene in a performance it is key to act, as dead like as possible to make the scene more life like.
More parts of the play that stuck out to the audience was when the main actress’s ex boyfriend pretended to hit her in the face. The hit sounded so real, and the audience thought it was real like. The other major tragedy scene was when the two main actors exploded themselves in at the end because they thought it was the only way to get rid of the bugs.
The Bug performance seemed to get the audience top react in the way the director and actors want. The performers got into their characters really well, and the gruesome parts seemed so realistic. Throughout the performance there was laughter, and sadness. The play proved to be a hit due to the audience’s reactions throughout the performance and the standing applause at the end. Overall, The Bug seemed to reach the audience on a realistic level with the combination of the gruesome parts, the great performances by each individual actor, and the lighting.
Thursday night was the big premier of the Bug at the Theatro Zucone. The individuals who saw this production saw a mixture of tragedy, comedy and suspense. There was a great deal of emotion and realism presented in this production. The Bug presented outrageous life lessons about drugs, alcohol, and mental illnesses. This was a strong and mentally twisted production and should be seen with discretion.
The atmosphere of the Bug could only be described as intimate. The setting felt as if members of the audience were seated in the same hotel room as the cast. Due to the intimate feeling of the setting, it was almost as if you could get to know the characters first hand. This helped you recognize the present state of the characters, yet made you wonder about their past. The closeness that the audience felt with the characters due to the setting was only made stronger by the complexity of which the actors played them. The mingling of these two elements was able to successfully captivate the audience.
While the acting was well done there were dull moments in the plot that held the actors back. One good example of such a moment was when the lead male was convincing the lead female that her son was part of a governmental experiment. This scene started out with intensity and emotion but as the characters continued to ramble on, the audience lost interest. While the plot dragged at some points it had always seemed to reengage the audience eventually. One especially riveting scene involved the murder of someone who was looking for the lead male. Although it was a moderately graphic scene, it was appropriate and was relevant to the production as a whole. These exciting instances carried the story through what would have otherwise been a dull plot.
The Bug did an excellent job of getting the audience emotionally involved. There were many scenes that invoked strong feelings through intense imagery. The murder scene, the sex scene and the abuse that was seen by the ex-husband were all scenes largely responsible for making this a killer production. There was one downfall of this tactic, however. The abrupt ending of the play was probably intended to shock the audience. Rather than the shock achieving a positive effect, the audience simply felt cut off.
The Bug made people laugh, made people sit on the edge of their seats, and made them kind of queasy at times. This play was obviously not real but the audience was so into it they were able to play along. Over all this was a well done production directed by Anika Thompson. The aesthetic distance, the skill in which the actors portrayed their characters, and the intense emotional aspects of key scenes elevated this production in the minds of the audience to a new height.
The play Bug, performed by Renegade Theater was a psychological thriller that was meant to make us laugh, make us gasp, and ultimately think about the message. The play starts in a hotel room with Agnes White portrayed by Molly O’Neill who was clearly depressed and was getting harassed through phone calls from her abusive ex-husband Jerry Goss portrayed by Lee Gundersheimer. Shortly after we are introduced to Agnes friend R.C. portrayed by Erin McConell and her friend Peter Evans portrayed by Cory Anderson. After a short time Agnes and Peter fall into each other’s arms and that’s when the madness begins. Peter feels that he got bit and begins looking for the bug and after a while Agnes believes she also was getting bit. As the plot unravels, we find out that this “bug” epidemic could have all been in their heads.
The acting for Bug was convincing. There were times throughout the play when the scene was so creepy and horrifying that I had a hard time watching. Anderson did an excellent job staying on fence between being a legitimate sane human and being a possible insane government experiment. Another actor who did a wonderful job was Lee Gundersheimer. On opening night as he sat down on the bed one of the legs broke and he reacted fabulously and made the audience break out in laughter. Also, his character was very believable. He pulled off the over aggressive and abusive ex-husband with skill.
Anika Thompson, the director for this play, did a wonderful job pulling the characters together and setting a believable set that accurately captured the mood of the play. However, there were a few times throughout the play when the blocking of characters could have been better. For instance, Peter was examining through his microscope the bugs that he had found in his bed. The character was on the ground and it was nearly impossible to see what was going on from further back in the audience. This reduced the quality of the play slightly.
Another quality of the play that demands the attention of the audience was the lighting. It helped to set the mood throughout the whole play. The use of the window to show time of day was also carefully noted. At night a deep blue was cast on the actors to show night but also gave the audience enough light to still appreciate the little actions that the actors made. The whole play was realistically lit and was so well done that I found the lighting to be the most impressive part of the production.
Finally I’d like to mention quickly the stage designer’s use of props to build a realistic and convincing scene. My favorite was the death of the psychologist when Peter stabbed him and the props used to show his death were extravagant and so well hidden until the point of his death that it was shocking and frightening to see everything happening so quickly and violently.
Bug was a play that is worth seeing. The fact that it is edgy and scary and because it feature strong language, blood, and nudity it is strongly advised that you get ready to sit on the edge of your seat because nothing about this performance was laid back.
The Renegade Theatre Company has come to be known for its bold choice in plays and “Bug” was no exception. This was a show more akin to the dark thrillers of Hollywood than what one would normally expect in Duluth. It kept the audience on edge and waiting for the next horrific turn until the very last moment.
Almost immediately after entering the space the audience began squirming in their seats. Between the disclaimers and the set everybody was thinking the worst. The set looked like the epitome of every vacation hotel nightmare. A destroyed and rickety pull out bed, florescent sign flashing in the window, generic decorations, and the peeling wallpaper alone made everyone’s skin crawl. At one point a character sat on the bed and almost fell through to the floor, so the tattered look was definitely authentic and this definitely added to the realism of the show.
Unfortunately, after the first scene it became really hard to hear the actors and because of that some major plot points were missed by the audience and this led to a few problems. It seemed like the audience did not know whether to laugh or not and later it became even more confusing when serious lines were spoken and half of the audience would laugh and the other half was silent. This could have been because the script did not clearly define if the show was supposed to be comedic or not, or because of the missed plot points in the beginning. Overall it was an awkward experience for the audience because of this.
Molly O’Neill played Agnes, a sort of burnt out and wilted woman dealing with a very scary situation, and did so wonderfully. A character like hers could have so easily been overpowered by the other more bold characters, but she held her ground. Cory Anderson was Peter Evans, a drug riddled and mentally ill individual, left a little to be desired but this was mostly because the drug story itself was unrealistic. Sometimes it was hard to tell if Peter was being normal, or if he was supposed to be high, or crazy. All of the actors had problems projecting, but this might have been because a fan or something kept clicking on and off randomly throughout the show and made it nearly impossible to hear.
On top of not being able to hear it was also quite hard to see. The actors sightlines were often blocked or they were facing towards each other too much to see anything other than their backs. Props were often placed in spots where the audience would have to crane their necks for fifteen minutes or so just to tell what was going on. None of the lighters worked either which was really unfortunate for the actors, and robbed the show of the final moment where Agnes is supposed to light the lighter to burn herself, Peter, and the bugs to death. Though those mishaps were positively counteracted by the amazing and resourceful make-up done on and off stage.
In the end Renegade Comedy Theater put on a chilling show, but it seemed like it was trying too hard to be edgy just for the sake of it.
The “bug” a Tracy Letts’s thriller ride drama presented by Renegade Theater Company and directed by Anika Thompson was provocative and disturbing. This tragedy-comedy play is characterized by use of strong language, nudity and violence. There was also significant use of alcohol and drugs but the level of paranoia and subsequent bloody scenes was shocking and made the audience quite jittery.
The plot involves two lonely, haunted people with troubled pasts coming together in a cheap run-down motel room. Agnes White (Molly O’Neill), who is being pursued by an abusive ex-husband freshly out of jail, is introduced to Peter Evans (Cory Anderson) by her lesbian lover (Erin McConnell). Peter is mentally disturbed war veteran who awakens in the middle of the night by bug bite and what follows is alarming downward spiral into paranoia and total mayhem. It is very clear that bugs in the bedding are not the only issue traumatizing Peter. He is engulfed in the state of oblivion and thinks he is being monitored by the some unseen forces. The play starts slow but climax into some horror movie meant for Halloween season as Peter and Agnes shun everybody and seclude themselves in the bug invested hotel room.
Watching the “Bug” made one feel unease and the message the powerful. The amount of violence and blood was hard to stomach but the intention of playwright was clear. Mental illness, drugs and alcohol abuse are a menace to the society. The scenes and storylines reflected the tragedy that can happen if intervention measures are not in place to help those suffering from these sicknesses. Peter’s paranoia makes kill Dr. Sweet (Jody Kujawa) and in the process, one life is lost and the other will eventually be institutionalized.
Generally, the actors were quite convincing in their respective roles. Molly and Cory performances were fairly entertaining and the audience responded with dead silence or occasional applause. They also articulated clearly and projected their voices to all corners of the theater. Costumes and Lighting were used to good effect too. Dim lights and total darkness symbolized night time to be followed by a brand new day.
Overall the play was enjoyable but hard to watch. The scenes presented were very bloody and there was too much nudity when the make-up of the audience is put into consideration. The script was a good story well told and fit the audience of Duluth.
The performance of Bug, written by Tracey Letts and directed by Anika Thompson was performed at the Renegade Theater last Thursday night and it definitely lived up to its moniker of “an intense” ride. The two main characters, Agnes White (Molly O’Neill) and Peter Evans (Cory Anderson) end up in twisted downward spiral of emotional and physical demise. Letts and Thompson were able to leave your skin literally crawling with anticipation and uneasiness. They were compelled to make the audience quiver and squirm in their seats and they achieved this to the full effect. The only thing that could have improved the performance was to have actual bugs and creepy-crawlies being dumped on you. They definitely succeeded in this attempt.
From an artistic perspective design, there was a plethora of exciting and interesting things done during this performance. One of the most obvious ones was the sounds of the swarms of bugs flying around. This effect really paid dividends because it ensnarled yet another sense into the woven web of uneasiness. The different lighting was also very apparent, as the neon glow from the outdoor motel sign perverted the darkness within the hotel room at night. Also, the bright morning lights were very distinctly and overly bright, just as you would experience in the early morning. The costumes were also well done and fit the time frame of the play well. They also were able to portray the social status of the performers quite well.
From an acting perspective, the performers played the extremely stereotypical roles quite well and believable. Molly O’Neil was able to swing from both sides of the plate as she wooed you into sorrow for Agnes and her abusive relationship with her ex-husband, as well as tormented you with anguish as her character’s sanity slipped before your very eyes. Peter Evans, played by Cory Anderson, might have been the most disturbed and real performance I have seen from an actor all year. His tendencies to rationalize his behavior and place the responsibility of his actions on the events in his past was extremely interesting to watch and monitor as his own sanity slowly dripped away leaving him with just his paranoia and his friend Agnes. His braveness also allowed him to be seen on stage nude at times and that is quite courageous. The supporting cast also performed quite well, as Jerry Goss, performed by Lee Gundersheimer, headlined the secondary actors. His southern, uneducated drawl was tinged with overly confident, blinded by arrogance dialect that always forced you to wish the worst upon his character.
Overall, this play was definitely worth attending. Be that as it may, it is not a show for everyone, as the nudity, vulgarity, and sheer amount of blood may be too much for the average theater goer. However, this performance was definitely one to be remembered as a gory, psychological thriller that was performed by a strong and complete duo of main characters and was backed by an almost equally impressive supporting cast.
If you are new to the theatre, Renegade Theater Company's newest production, "Bug", may not be the place to start. It's unlike anything I've ever seen or heard of in the theatre, but it's dealer's choice on whether that's a good thing. "Bug" features harsh language, some nudity, and some absolutely cringe-inducing scenes that add to the odd dynamic that surrounds this production. It's not that "Bug" is necessarily bad, it just may not be for everyone. The story is very interesting and original, but it may shake people in the wrong way.
The acting in "Bug" was top notch. Molly O'Neill plays the main female lead of Agnes White with passion. The audience ebbs and flows with her as she decides whether or not to trust this new drifter, Peter Evans (played by Cory Anderson). It doesn't feel as if she is deciding, but as if the entire audience is deciding along with her. As with when Peter first shows up. Agnes is fragile and in need of a companion, we know this and root for him to be a good man. We feel for her alcoholism and root for her throughout, which is a sign of great acting.
Something should be said for Anderson, as well. He plays the war vet character of Peter with no fear whatsoever. There are times when he is nude on stage, which is something I've never seen before and commend his bravery for doing. On top of those daring scenes, Anderson also dives into his other stage time and you struggle to take your eyes off him throughout.
Both of their performances add up to some fantastic chemistry between the two, as they are the driving force of the play. I struggled to take my eyes off either, which became increasingly difficult when they were both in the action.
The hysteria surrounding whether or not the bugs surrounding the main characters is one that confuses and drives the story. It is only propelled further by the fantastic make-up done during the play. The blood, the sores, and everything else all look so real that it's sometimes tough to look.
But for all of the gore and grossness, "Bug" still manages to get laughs of out the crowd, as well. This balance is very important to the production, so as not to tip the scale into full fledged gore. They are genuinely funny, and sometimes even seemed ad-libbed. But it was that great balance of gore and laughs that made "Bug" a play I would recommend for nearly all theatre goers. For those with a weak stomach, you might want to skip this one. But for those who want to see a great story in a different way, "Bug" will deliver.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on November 4, 2011 12:12 PM.
The Foreigner - UMD Theatre was the previous entry in this blog.
Cosi fan tutte - UMD Opera is the next entry in this blog.
Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.