I had this kind of epiphany watching the latest from barebone productions, the Pittsburgh premiere of Tracy Letts' Bug. The play itself is a white-trash thriller with lots of drugs, alcohol, rock 'n' roll, blood & guts and plenty of nudity. Everybody's really messed up and everything's really sick -- a typical Saturday night around my house.

Anyway, Lissa Brennan plays (and fiercely so) an emotionally and physically battered woman so screwed up she falls for an equally deranged nut job, played with plenty of force by Patrick Jordan. The play's central question is whether the guy's loony or not. (Sort of a low-rent Proof.) With able support from Miki Johnson, David Cabot and Ken Bolden, and ruthlessly intelligent direction from Shannon Cochran on Douglas McDermott's incredible set, the evening was humming along nicely.

But my epiphany, occurring near the end of the first act, pulled me from the rest of the play. I suddenly realized that in the annals of barebones' very respectable production history, it's done only plays in which a woman is brutalized. I ran through the list: The Grey Zone, Frozen, The Glory of Living, This Is Our Youth and Bash. All these plays weren't only about brutalized women -- though most were -- but all featured a woman being brutalized.

And the thing is, I happen to know barebones artistic director Patrick Jordan, and he's the nicest guy -- and, according to Pittsburgh Magazine, one of our city's "25 Most Beautiful People." (Which was announced even before he was waving his junk all over the stage in Bug.) So what's up?

Patrick, call your mother and apologize. Right now!

Bug continues through Feb. 18. 3609 Forbes Ave. (formerly The Upstage), Oakland through Feb. 18. 412-363-5847



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