and Bugs," a
kate west review
a world premiere by Paul Zimmerman, directed by Chris Fields,
Echo Theatre Company 1157 McCadden Place
Hollywood 90038; (800) 413-8669;
February 12 - March 14, 2004
The recent Echo Theatre production of "Pigs and Bugs"
is a contemporary, confusing tale about the effect pop culture
has on the human soul. Director Chris Fields does a solid job
with the material but cannot overcome the more confusing elements
of the play. Sound Designer Drew Dalzell peppers the scenes with
game show sound bytes, inferring a constant presence of television's
enticing hopefulness for winning the American dream. And at one
point, the sound is a bit too long and too loud for sensitive
spectators. Also, Set Designer David Offner creates a bizarrely
fun atmosphere with hanging shopping bags and carpeted lamps suspended
above one interchangeable, overstuffed sofa. It suggests to the
viewer that he/she is in for a wild ride but by the end you may
wonder where the fun has gone.
Colantoni (from television's "Just Shoot Me") is Russell;
a neurotic, worried, manic writer with an exasperated, long-suffering
wife named Wanda (Tara Karsian). The first act begins with his
paranoia-induced monologues on the various people he believes
want to destroy him. Meanwhile, Wanda's sister Harriet (Christine
Estabrook) is another neurotic paranoid and suffering from agoraphobia.
Her daughter Brenda (Anna Perilo) tries everything to get her
mother to leave the house but Harriett won't budge. These four
characters interact with each other in two acts; each becoming
progressively more paranoid and frantic as the plots unfolds.
play eventually climaxes with an odd focus on Brenda, leaving
the audience to wonder if the playwright (Paul Zimmerman) is expressing
his voice through her or if she is the "everyman," surrounded
by a family over inundated with a barrage modern of materialism.
Either way, it follows a strange "death" scene in which
the other three characters convulse after an endless angry spewing
monologue but shortly thereafter spring back into action as if
nothing had transpired. This device does not fully embody the
playwright's intention except in a rather obvious way.
in all, the playwright seems to be commenting on modern materialism
and white noise and the way it all tends to curb normal intimacy
and control in people's lives. Perhaps these people started out
normally but slowly degenerated into buzzing zombies, brimming
over with aggression and violence. As an original play it is an
interesting look at our modern lifestyle but does not offer anything
particularly revolutionary. The production ultimately fails to
break new ground.