A cursory spin through Bug's playbill primes the viewer for a sci-fi-psychotic hallucination that will render every character in the small cast naked, dead or both. So much for nuance — except playwright Tracy Letts connects the over-the-top dots with moments of tragic comedy and oddball intimacy. Unable to move on after the loss of her six-year-old son nearly a decade ago, Agnes White (Kirsten Wylder) has devolved into a hermitic drug addict. Her ex-husband, Jerry Goss (Jared Sanz-Agero), pays frequent unsolicited visits to her cruddy motel digs now that he’s out of prison, uttering threatening proclamations of “love,” often following through with his fists. But then preternaturally eloquent vagrant Peter Evans (Justin Ivan Brown) materializes, causing an eddy in the current of drugs and beatings. The change begins with (what else?) drugs and a beating — the former shared, the latter courtesy of (who else?) Jerry. A crack-fueled interlude of desperate cruddy-motel sex seals their bond, and their fate. Under Cameron Ulrich’s direction, Wylder imbues her self-deprecating affectations with humor and bite, while Brown captivates with his chameleonic portrayal of an unstable (but not unendearing) man on the run, from meek introduction to explosive exit. Presented by Muddy Waters Theatre Company through March 25 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Boulevard (in the Big Brothers Big Sisters building). Tickets are $25 ($20 for students, seniors and active-duty military personnel). Call 314-971-3143 or visit www.muddywaterstheatre.com.
Fridays-Sundays. Starts: March 9. Continues through March 25, 2012