Greetings Theater Lovers,
This month I saw only one theatrical
performance, Mayumana's Be
at the Union Square Theatre at 100 East 17th Street,
New York, NY 10003. Be is (to quote the
press release), "the internationally acclaimed
rhythm-dance performance art phenomenon from Israel."
Playing at the former home of Slava's Snow Show,
Be rocked the stage. The actors are full of
energy; they are marvelous dancers, drummers and
comedians. Be is yet another entry into
the category of stage shows like Stomp
and Blue Man Group,
shows that can be enjoyed even if you do not speak
a word of English.
Tickets for Be
are scaled at $20 -$60 and are now available by
calling 212-505-0700, or through Ticketmaster.com
I also saw the movie version of Tracy Lett's
stage play, Bug. The film stars: Ashley
Judd as Agnes White; Michael Shannon as Peter Evans
(he was in the original play); Lynn Collins as R.C.;
Brian F. O'Byrne as Dr. Sweet; and Harry Connick
Jr as Jerry Goss.
Lynn Collins, Ashley Judd
and Michael Shannon in Bug
I reviewed Bug when it played
at New York's Barrow Street Theater in 2004. Here
is a copy of my review.
The Barrow Street Theatre
Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams
Tracy Lett's Bug is one bugged-out show.
Filled with varmints and crawling with vermin, it
is one of the best shows I have seen off Broadway.
As you enter the theater there is a wonderful advertisement
in the ticket office warning that the show contains
nudity, violence and cigarette smoking. And the
show certainly contains a lot of nudity and violence,
but it is so fast paced the characters have little
time to smoke until the very end - but I don't want
to give away too much too soon.
The eerie theme is launched in the beginning when
we see the drugged-out
Agnes (the wonderful Shannon Cochran) standing in
the doorway of a seedy Oklahoma City motel, casually
smoking a cigarette, listening to the trucks whizzing
by as an ignored phone rings in the background.
She then leaves the door wide open while she looks
for something to drink in the bathroom. This directorial
choice is a great metaphor for the rest of the story,
for Agnes is always forgetting to "shut the
Soon her lesbian friend RC (the talented Amy Landecker)
arrives with Peter (the amazing Michael Shannon)
in tow. When RC leaves, she leaves Peter (as a present?),
and once Peter is in the door, he never leaves.
And with Peter come the bugs, with the bugs comes
the paranoia and with the paranoia comes the apocalypse.
Tracy Letts has written a very provocative script
that is both scary and darkly funny. And Dexter
Ballard has done a great job directing; he really
knows how to use the space between the lines. The
lighting (Tyler Micoleau) and set (Lauren Helpern)
were right on the money; I have stayed in those
motels and they nailed it. The talented cast also
features Reed Birney, who does a clever turn as
the smiling Dr. Sweet (a clever choice of a name)
and Michael Cullen who portrays Agnes's ex-husband
Goss. Mr. Cullen does a fabulous job playing the
menacing and perplexed Goss. So go see Bug,
The play was a London import which went on to win
the 2003-2004 Obie Award for Outstanding Performance
for the acting company: Shannon Cochran as Agnes
White; Michael Shannon as Peter Evans; Michael Cullen
as Jerry Goss; Amy Landecker as R. C.; and Reed
Birney as Dr. Sweet.
The new film is faithful to the stage play (Mr.
Betts also wrote the screenplay). The film, however,
has been advertised as a horror film instead of
the sophisticated black comedy it really is. When
I saw the film yesterday, there was a small audience,
but halfway through the film the audience caught
on and began to laugh. But it was guilty or surprised
laughter, the way people laugh at something that
is really not supposed to be funny; after all the
film ads said it was a horror film.
According to press reports, Tracy Letts fought
to have the fairly unknown Michael Shannon reprise
his role as Peter and thank goodness he won - Mr.
Shannon is incredible. As for Ashley Judd replacing
the wonderful Shannon Cochran (from both the London
and New York play), amazingly it worked. Ashley
Judd gives the performance of her career. And Harry
Connick Jr. is quite a revelation as the wife-beating
So remember Bug, the film. Strange advertising
campaign or not, I predict it will find its audience
in the DVD world and become a cult classic.