Bugs in the Belfry


By Tracy Letts

Perhaps you know, but in case you don’t, Tracy Letts, who plays CIA Director Andrew Lockhart on Homeland (seasons 3-4), is also an award-winning playwright and stage actor. You’ve heard of at least one of his hit plays that went to the silver screen as a so-so shadow of itself, August: Osage County. However, you may not be familiar with his really good and totally crazy psychological drama, Bug, adapted from the stage to film with William Friedkin directing, starring Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, and Harry Connick, Jr.

Of course, you should read the play, but afterwards watch the film to see how talented actors bring Letts’s tale of psychological terror to frightening and darkly humorous life.

Oh so dark and oh so disturbingly and painfully outlandish, right down to the last flash of insanity.

Agnes, a sad and forlorn woman in her mid forties, allows a friend’s acquaintance to stay with her. Peter is a bit strange, but she connects with him. After their first night together, he finds a bug in the bed. She at first can’t detect it, but finally agrees with him. And from then on all hell breaks loose.

What fascinates about Bug, no matter how many times you read it or see the first-rate film version is how Peter draws Agnes into his paranoid world. Then how she embraces it wholeheartedly and at his urging concocts her own wacky conspiracy theory. Her entire last monologue is at once frightening, riveting, funny, and what’s even scarier, relevant in light of what you can find right here on the internet. Think you can’t be drawn in, can’t be duped, can’t be turned against everything you believe in, against your very own rational self? Think again. Letts demonstrates that you can.

If you chose to watch the film of Bug, consider making it a date night. You know, the one you love, a bottle of wine, a platter of munchies … and a can of Raid®, just in case. c/w


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