So we saw this play the other night, Tracy Letts' ``Bug,'' in a Paper Wing Theatre production at the Gallerie Theatre, which is just a block of so above Monterey, California's Cannery Row, which was famous for canning sardines way back when, so the Gallerie Theatre was an appropriate venue as it seats only 30 people maybe, and we ironically happened to be packed as tight as sardines.
That's OK. It was a good show, directed by Kirsten Clapp, rather dark, granted, but well done by the Paper Wing and well written by Letts, who is probably best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning ``August: Osage County.'' Some people say you come out of ``Bug'' feeling itchy, something to do with the subject, but you also come out thinking.
It's about these people in a seedy Oklahoma motel room, the two main characters being Agnes, a woman who lost her child, and whose husband is a jailbird, and an Iraq War vet, Peter, who suspects the Army might have experimented with his body while he was hospitalized.
So in Peter's case you leave ``Bug'' wondering if the Army really did experiment on Peter, implanting him with bugs, the real, crawling things, not spying devices, though those would be possible, too, or is he simply paranoid, or is he paranoid for good reason – i.e., he knows, or feels he knows, that the Army may very well be capable of such experiments.
Deena Welch plays Agnes superbly and the strong cast includes Todd Stone, Ashley Gordon and Brian Allen Andrews. Clapp and Patrick McEvoy designed the set and it is amazing because it is two levels and probably doesn't cover more than 50 square feet of floor space and is claustrophobic and if one of the actors fell off the second level maybe a member or two of the audience would be squashed, like a, well, a bug.
The main reason we saw ``Bug'' was to check out Victor Dibiartolomeo, who plays Peter. We (Nancy and I) know Dibartolomeo from a health club we work out at several times a week, called In-Shape, in Pacific Grove. Dibartolomeo works at In-Shape and is good at what he does, graciously greeting people, checking them in, giving them a towel, putting them at ease.
Several weeks ago he told us he was going to open in ``Bug,'' and I knew a little about the play and had a feeling Dibartolomeo would be a good actor – something about his intensity and an original way with introspection that's hard to put your finger on but that might translate interestingly on stage or in film – but I also wondered how a person working in a health club would do playing someone who is not healthy, mentally and/or physically.
Well, he was very good, beginning by playing Peter as quite normal and rational, maybe a bit too rational and calm, a clue of what was to come. After all, you don't necessarily have to play a character disturbed to show he/she is disturbed; you can be as or more effective playing the person as extremely normal, since we know that doesn't really exist and people that seem extremely sane may, indeed, be insane. Anyway, that's the way Dibartolomeo begins the characterization, and builds from there to a harrowing and bloody finale with Welch.
As to a health club person playing a character who is not healthy, I'm not sure why I brought that up.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...