Welcome to the first of a five part series, Cast Catch-Up, where the wonderfully talented cast of BUG will be sharing their thoughts on the script, the rehearsal process, their characters, and everything in between.
I first read Bug in April of this year as part of a lengthy selection process. It was a difficult job to decide on a follow-up to Made in China and though I was thoroughly relishing the task ahead, the novelty of reading several plays a day had started to rub off. All the plays had something in them: an interesting premise, some nice dialogue, a certain style or approach, but I had yet to read a stand-out piece of work, or a play that screamed a vital immediacy.
I remember my first impressions of Bug very well because I was so off the mark – “too American?”; “too naturalistic, too straightforward perhaps”; “Oklahoma setting might not resonate with an Irish audience, could be a very difficult to stage” etc… Such unfair thoughts gradually shifted to “this is quite unique actually”, to “there’s more going on here than I thought” and finally “wow, this is brilliant”.
And it really is. It has a seemingly simple premise – a coming together of two damaged souls and unlikely lovers, – but beneath the surface there are deeper ideas at work. How far can you go to save a person? Is there a limit to what love can conquer? Can you really trust even those closest to you? And can you recover if the very fabric of your being, your DNA, your humanity, was pushed, stretched, smashed to pieces?
Part of the play’s brilliance is that it doesn’t present any answers. I strongly believe that the very best theatre isn't always immediate- fragments, questions, themes, images and lines of dialogue that resonate with me for years after seeing an incredible production, usually creep into my own consciousness after a few days or weeks attacking me on a deeply physical, emotional or unconscious level.
As a creative team, Bug will challenge us to create this very type of theatre magic. Letts is a master playwright, and although he has wonderfully used language and imagery to conjure a complexity and mystery that resonates, our job also requires a dedicated pursuit into the layers of dark comedy and lightness that he has crafted deep into the pores of this fine piece of writing. I can honestly say that the audience at the Viking will never have seen anything like this at the Clontarf venue before - for such a visionary piece, it is also vicious and uncompromising. It is complex and dark, has a singular style and presents an unflinching view of human nature that some may find difficult to witness.
Perhaps this is what made it stand out from the rest of the plays – it is unconventional but totally honest, a similarity it shares with The Viking Theatre, a venue not afraid to take risks on the new and unfamiliar, and so supportive of our fledgling company with big ideas. We are a few days into rehearsals and even we don’t know where we will be in 3 weeks time. It’s an exciting place to be, not knowing exactly what will happen next. But when you come to see it I can promise you this: expect to be moved, expect to think deeply, expect to have moral certainties challenged and ideas about theatre upended. I don’t expect you will all like it. All I’d say is you have to see it for yourself.