Pigs and Bugs

“Pigs and Bugs,” a world premiere by Paul Zimmerman
a kate west review
directed by Chris Fields,
Echo Theatre Company, McCadden Place Theatre,
1157 McCadden Place,
Hollywood 90038; (800) 413-8669; www.echotheatrecompany.com
Running 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 overco
me 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.

Enrico 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.

The 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.

All 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.

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