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Itchy and Scratchy: Local Production of Bug lets it all hang out 

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Just in time for Halloween and reviving 2nd Street Theater's Evil Dead spirit comes Bug, a play that lays out a true psychological vision of warped and squeamish dimensions. Once again, it's nice to see something this bold and wacky in Bend.

You've got to hand it to this talented production team: they are not afraid to take risks. I was lucky enough to attend the "week before" opening and even though there are some minor bugs to work out, this is a solid production fully intent on remaining creepy-crawly from the inside out.

Bug the movie was wrongfully hyped as a horror movie, but nothing could be further from the truth. A well-written psychological mess, this play is an elaborate guessing game as to what's real, imagined and/or manipulated. Knowing Bug the movie as well as I do, just makes it more fun to watch and the way this production is staged makes it easy to drop the comparisons early on.

Beginning with solid interaction between the characters, even with long undecipherable pauses, it begins to become clear that there's more to Bug than meets the eye. Director Lyryn Cate creates a tense mood, complementing the play's "insanity loves company" theme. Clinton K. Clark is forceful in a laidback way while Jenny McKenzie is effective in a more subdued role than we're used to seeing her in. Consummate actor (and occasional Source contributor) Jared Rasic is all fun with his creepy take on a doctor that could be either real or imagined.

Todd Hanson as Peter smartly veers away from the super manic portrayal originally honed on stage and screen by Michael Shannon. But it's Amber Hanson in the lead role of Agnes who constantly stands out. She's believable from the second she's onstage. She truly not only inhabits the character, but grows along with it. Just when you think her performance has reached its peak, she digs deeper and finds more.

There are some decent bits of blood and gore to satiate the Halloween appetite and audiences, so consider yourself warned... there is also full frontal nudity that the actors seem to use to push the humor of the production. In a way, this dark humor is a release valve for any nervousness resulting from the naked truth staring at you from the stage.

Bug disturbing as it is, is a study on the psychosis of loneliness and madness. The characters' twisted progression gets more surreal as it progresses. Lunacy and insidiousness prevails amidst garbled ranting on government conspiracies. If you're looking for a dose of creepy and brave theater Bug is the infestation you've been waiting for. - Morgan P. Salvo

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