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Review Round-Ups

Critics are buzzing for Bug

The revival of Tracy Letts' play opened to a good reception from critics

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Matt Trueman, WhatsOnStage

★★★★

"It's a play that gets under your skin and gnaws away. Like Peter, it's deceptively easy-going to start, but, boy, does it work itself into a frenzy."

"This is a fine study of paranoia - psychologically, philosophically and politically. Letts catches its wildfire nature, the way one tiny misgiving can unleash a plague, but shows that, far from being irrational, delusion escalates through sensible reasoning."

"Bug had currency 20 years ago, but it feels all the more potent in an age of dodgy dossiers and digital spying. It's still pulp fiction but it's got real purpose."

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph

★★★★

"Given today's paranoia about government surveillance and unseen decision-makers, the piece has ongoing topicality."

"There's something compelling about the way sinister ideas keep crawling out of the woodwork of Peter's mind, assuming a reality for the fragile pair. The US playwright shows in microcosm how 'cult' mentalities and loyalties take hold."

"His [James Norton's] American psycho has points of similarity with Happy Valley's Tommy Lee Royce but this performance has its own creepy authenticity and strange plausibility. He's matched in intensity by the gimlet-eyed Fleetwood, who has cheekbones every bit as striking as his too."

Natasha Tripney, The Stage

★★★

"Norton and particularly Fleetwood capture the play's mixture of brain haze and agitation; in their different ways they're both magnetic."

"Ben Stones' detailed design creates a suitably moody blue motel atmosphere and Richard Howell's lighting enhances the play's substantial X Files vibe – soon Norton is papering the walls with tin foil and flinching at each knock at the door."

"Director Simon Evans understands the power of intimacy and proximity – you're sat so close to the action you risk a nick on one of Fleetwood's magnificent cheekbones – but he doesn't quite draw out the play's full potential for itchy intensity, its sense of heightened under-the-skin unease."

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

★★★

"Despite the star casting of James Norton and Kate Fleetwood, this early Tracy Letts drama doesn't quite get under the skin."

"While Norton and Fleetwood are both individually good, their relationship doesn't have the incendiary whiff necessary for it to catch alight and make you really care about them."

"Simon Evans's revival doesn't quite navigate the play's full-frontal mix of alarmingly entertaining comic violence, downright weirdness and febrile emotion."

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out

★★★

"Both leads are excellent: he's a gentle oddball whose mounting paranoia never quite turns him into a monster; she's sharp, tough, funny but heartbreakingly lonely. You really want it to work out for them, and it really really doesn't, and there's a horrible, remorseless logic to Letts's portrait of their descent."

"But I couldn't quite get my head around the revival. It lacks nuance and context. We have two strong, sympathetic portraits of what some might call white trash, but what we're supposed to take from their fate I was unsure."

"Bug is an intense, intimate experience, but that intensity also makes the production's gruesomeness and body horror seem like the most important bit of it. It's gripping, but it feels discomfortingly like a human zoo, a study of the American working class as violent, tragic exotica."


Bug runs at Found111 until 7 May.

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