Very occasionally, you’ll see a play (we could stop the sentence right there) that succeeds largely because of its open embrace of cinematic influences. Such a play was Bug, the 2004 Off Broadway skin-crawling sensation by Tracy Letts. Now this simple story of a woman, a man, a motel room, and an infestation of paranoia is following its genre-film roots right back to the source: It’s now a Lionsgate horror flick starring Ashley Judd.
Much of the claustrophobic thrill of Bug came from seeing it live, in a musty old theater, with nowhere to run. (The producers wisely never attempted a move to a larger house.) The frisson of bloody, big-screen indie-horror conventions presented in a scaled-down live staging gave the story the seedy matinee texture it needed to succeed. Will Bug work as straight screen horror? As a yarn, it’s well-written, but maybe a little familiar. Michael Shannon certainly gives good crazy. And Ashley Judd looks nicely dented as a recovering meth-head emerging from a bad marriage… into something perhaps unimaginably worse.
What do you think? Did anyone see the show? You scared? Reaching for the Raid? (Sept. 22)