Odeum Theatre Company's production of Tracy Letts' 1996 play Bug, which continues its run this weekend at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, will get under your skin.
The play opens in a dark, seedy motel room in the outskirts of Oklahoma City, occupied by a slim woman with dark circles under her eyes searching her clutter for a bottle of booze.
The phone rings, but when Agnes (Leslie Long) answers, no one is there, and she suspects the heavy breather is her abusive ex-husband, Goss (Dale Sams), who's been recently released from prison.
Agnes is obviously lonely and filling up the holes in her life with booze and coke, when her lesbian friend R.C. (Elizabeth Gigliotti-Samples) stops by with a cute, unassuming fellow named Peter (Whitson Hanna), a former soldier stationed in the Middle East in the Gulf War.
Agnes is at first suspicious of Peter but, because she's desperately lonely and because he manages to convince her that he's harmless, she invites him to spend the night with her, first on the floor and then in her bed. When Goss shows up at her door and Peter intervenes, her attraction to him is sealed.
Before long, tiny bugs begin to show up in Agnes' hotel room. She can't see them at first, but once Peter convinces her they're there, the pair wage a full-on war against the infestation before completely devolving into paranoid madness.
David Lawrence directs Odeum's Bug, which is perfectly paced. Rather than rush the play to its violent conclusion, Lawrence lets the natural momentum build, making its characters' devolution an almost natural, certainly believable, and intensely gripping end.
Each of the play's five actors did an extraordinary job. Hanna introduces Peter as a hapless, if a little strange, guy with fairly good intentions. His attempts to manipulate start out small, so small she doesn't realize she's being manipulated, but he does it with such charm and ease that it would be easy for anyone, even those of us sitting in the audience, to succumb to his suggestions.
Long does well at playing a scared, fragile woman who's trying to act tough, like she can take care of herself. Long understand her character's complexity, so the audience genuinely likes her while also feeling sorry for her. We can almost -- almost -- relate to her.
Sam's role as Goss is the best I've ever seen him perform. He's truly terrifying, not just because of his tendencies toward violence, but because his violent outbursts are intermingled with moments of sinister calmness. It's those moments that are most scary.
Gigliotti-Samples and Andy Axewell, as Dr. Sweet, offer such fine performances I wished they'd been on stage more than they were.
Tim Hollis' set design is beautiful -- beautiful in that it's an almost perfect replica of a low-rent motel room where a bug infestation might be possible, if not probable.
The cast and crew of Odeum do a magnificent job with Lett's second play. It's gripping from the beginning and quite terrifying at the end. But the terror doesn't just come from the bugs -- it comes from not knowing -- perhaps not wanting to know -- what people are really capable of.
What we're all capable of.
Bug continues Oct. 7-9 at 8pm and Oct. 10 at 2pm in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's Liddy Doenges Theatre, 110 E. Second St. Tickets are $20 and available at tulsapac.com.
Romance and Tragedy
Tulsa Opera presents Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata in the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa PAC on Saturday, Oct. 9, and Friday, Oct. 15, at 7:30pm and a matinee on Sunday, Oct. 17 at 2:30pm.
Written by Giuseppe Verdi, La Traviata is based on the novel La Dame Aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, and it is perhaps Verdi's most romantic and intimate creation, chronicling the ill-fated romance of Violetta Valéry and Alfredo Germont. Forced to decide between her independence and her true love, Violetta chooses the latter. However, Alfredo's father, Giorgio, soon intervenes in their relationship, with devastating consequences.
Acclaimed American soprano Kelly Kaduce makes her Tulsa Opera debut as Violetta. Hailed by Opera News as "an exceptional actress whose performance was as finely modulated dramatically as it was musically," Kaduce created the title role in David Carlson's Anna Karenina, and is featured in the Grammy-nominated recording of the opera.
Tenor Joshua Kohl, who was called a "tenor to watch" by The Boston Herald, also makes his Tulsa Opera debut as Alfredo Germont. Baritone Peter Lindskoog returns to Tulsa in the role of Alfredo's father.
Frequent Tulsa Opera guest Johnathon Pape, whose work was last seen in Tulsa Opera's 2008 Lakmé, will stage the production. Kostis Protopapas, artistic director for Tulsa Opera, conducts, with musical preparation by Mark Armstrong, and settings designed by Eduardo Sicangco for the Virginia Opera Association.
Single tickets start at $10 and are available through the Tulsa Opera box office by calling 587-4811 or visiting tulsaopera.com.
Oct. 12-13, at 7:30pm in the Tulsa PAC's John H. Williams Theatre, Choregus Productions presents, for the second time, Koresh Dance Company.
Philadelphia's Koresh Dance Company is renowned for its powerful stage presence and has been hailed as a vital force on both national and international stages.
The company's repertory -- ranging from explosive and passionate to intimate and restrained -- includes more than 60 works by founder Ronen Koresh and also works by such guest choreographers as Robert Battle, Ohad Naharin, Donald Byrd and Itzik Galili.
For its return engagement, the company will perform Sense of Human, a new full-evening work that has been called Ronen Koresh's masterpiece. Tickets are $40 at the PAC's website.
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