REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams


By Tracy LettsBug by Tracy Letts

Directed by Kimberly Senior

& Jack Magaw

At Redtwist Theatre, Chicago

Bug fizzles as gritty drama

It is the play that is the problem here. Bug by Tracy Letts is a under written work about the effects of paranoia on two people. The story stretches credulity with so many preposterous situations. Why would Agnes (Jacqueline Grandt) so quickly and easily become totally involved with Peter (Andrew Jessop) an obvious delusional paranoid schizophrenic? Because she is so lonely? Really! Billed as a darkly funny story, I found no humor just grit and rawness.

Bug by Tracy Letts

Next,  we see how Peter’s alienation progresses and how Agnes buys into it to the point that the two act out as paranoids.  Does her fear of being once again brutalized by her ex Jerry Goss (Tommy Lee Johnston) lead her into Peter’s world? One can only guess.

Set in a seedy motel room (earthy set design by Jack Magaw and Kimberly Senior) Bug unfolds as an uneven journey onto the conspiracy world that paranoia can bring to a former soldier. The mystery slowly builds into violence as the bugs  take over the two impressionable souls.  So many preposterous things happen – such as where did Peter find a butcher knife in the bathroom with which he attacks Dr. Sweet? Why didn’t Jerry Goss return and settle with his wife Agnes? It seems that the drama moves to its inevitable ending unencumbered by plausibility. The script is the problem here.

Bug by Tracy Letts

The cast, Jacqueline Grandt and Andrew Jessop in particular, try to make something of this material but their best efforts don’t solve the script’s problems. Thankfully, they didn’t do the shameful nude scenes like other productions. Unfortunately, the Redtwist Theatre’s production of Bug never gets weird enough into the world of mental illness necessary to affect us deeply.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: May 27, 2011

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Bug page on

At Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL, call 773-728-7529,, tickets $25 – $27 – $30,Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission, through June 26, 2011

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