Southern Gothic meets The X-Files (or does it?) in creepy, edgy thriller Bug

Poster art/design by Jonathan Kociuba

Toronto just got some more Tracy Letts Southern Gothic goodness, this time with a StudioBLR & Kid Switchblade indie production of Bug, directed by Jamieson Child, and opening last night at the Super Wonder Theatre (aka Gallery).

In Agnes’s shitty hotel room somewhere in Oklahoma, Agnes (Lynne Rafter) and her friend Ronnie (Jaclyn Nobrega) shoot the breeze and party with Ronnie’s friend Peter (Todd Preston). Agnes has been receiving multiple crank phone calls, with nothing but breathing on the other end, and suspects it’s her ex Jerry (Luke Gallo), who’s fresh out of two years in jail. Ronnie and her partner are trying to get custody of their kid, and when she leaves and Peter decides to stay, she vouches for him to Agnes. He’s a quiet one, that Peter. Quiet and nervous. But he and Agnes strike up a rapport and she offers him a place to stay, on the floor of her room. The relationship grows and they start to open up to each other, showing the other what’s deep inside. Only, for Peter, it’s not the usual life tribulations. An army soldier gone AWOL from a medical facility, he believes the government is experimenting on him. And his arrival has coincided with a bug infestation in Agnes’s room. Agnes, who is dealing with the heart-crushing loss of her young son who went missing 10 years ago, plus unwanted visits from the abusive Jerry, doesn’t know what to believe. When Dr. Sweet (Ian McGarrett) arrives, claiming he wants to take care of Peter and keep him safe, things start to make sense, but then – this being a Tracy Letts play – it all goes to hell pretty damn quick and hard.

Great work from the entire cast on this bizarre tale of conspiracy theory and paranoid delusion – and, like Agnes, the audience is constantly trying to sort out just what the hell is going on. Rafter gives a beautifully nuanced performance as the damaged Agnes; fragile and self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, she’s checked out of life and into this run-down hotel room, waiting tables to get by. Longing for connection and tenderness, she’s relieved yet terrified about her newfound relationship with Peter. This is Preston’s theatrical debut– and a damn good one at that – as he changes up from music performance (fronting Toronto indie band I Hate Todd) to acting. He turns up the heat on Peter nicely throughout; quiet and child-like at first, his anxiety presents as painful shyness, turning more hyperactive as he gets comfortable with Agnes in his new surroundings – and, like her, he’s longing for connection. Extremely intelligent, but obsessive and manic in his pursuit of the truth about the bugs, there’s a demented common sense to his theories. Really nice work from the supporting cast: Nobrega gives Ronnie a tough, but tender quality; loyal and extremely protective of Agnes, she’s a no-bullshit, direct gal who knows when she’s done all she can. Gallo brings a cagey, menacing edge to Jerry; an abusive brute with an overblown sense of ownership, he blames Agnes for the loss of their son Lloyd even as he uses her for money and as a punching bag. McGarrett is a somewhat spooky puzzle as Dr. Sweet; the doctor seems affable and harmless enough, even helpful – but there’s something off about him. He’s hiding something, but is it what Peter is accusing him of?

With shouts to the design team for creating the seedy, spooky ambiance: director Child (lighting), actor Preston (set design/construction), Michael Zahorak (music/sound) and Drac Child (makeup/costume coordinator).

Southern Gothic meets The X-Files (or does it?) in creepy, edgy thriller Bug.

Bug continues at the Super Wonder Theatre (aka Gallery) until May 27. Ticket info here; it’s an intimate space at the back of the gallery, so you might want to book ahead to avoid disappointment.

In the meantime, check out the show’s teaser vid:

I HATE TODD brings high-energy, big fun & kickass sounds @ Horseshoe Tavern for The Moves – Pt. 1 CD launch

At long last, Toronto band I HATE TODD launched their debut CD The Moves Pt. 1 at the iconic Horseshoe Tavern last night – and what a big fun night of music and celebration it was! In addition to an outstanding performance from I HATE TODD, the evening’s festivities also included some truly kickass opening performances by bands Rotary Dial, Giraffe and Ginger Ale & the Monowhales.

The Moves Pt. 1 is a powerful, darkly whimsical and playful record. Full of eclectic sounds, there’s Brit pop-inspired harmonies on songs like “8 Bullets,” celtic-inspired violin strains on “Sweet Drinks and Supplements” and country fiddle sounds on “Still Got The Moves,” spoken performances on the goth-flavoured “Zombie Love” and alt rock “Holiday With No Rest,” plus virtuoso guitar riffs, and rocking out bass and percussion all around – all delivered with outstanding vocals and musicianship. Lyrics are inspired by modern-day events, everyday life moments and, of course, love. Charismatic front man Todd Preston is part pop idol/part shaman, making every song a performance piece, interacting with band mates and entrancing the audience, wrapping us into the music. With its six tight, head-bopping tracks, I dare you to listen to The Moves Pt. 1 and not be moved – physically and emotionally.

Here are some snaps I took of the evening’s music, friends and fun. In order of appearance: Rotary Dial, Giraffe, Wendy at the merch booth, Ginger Ale & the Monowhales, I HATE TODD:

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You can also find I HATE TODD on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

And if you haven’t seen it, you must check out I HATE TODD’s video for “Zombie Love.”

I HATE TODD is: Todd Preston (vocals/guitar), Nelson Sobral (guitar/vocals), Capucine Onn (violin/vocals), Kev Carney (bass/vocals) and Troy Larabie (percussion/vocals). The Moves Pt.1 was engineered by Jeff Elliott. Shouts to Todd’s mom Wendy for heading up the merch booth. Congrats to the band for an awesome debut record and launch event!

Behind the scenes @ I Hate Todd’s Zombie Love vid shoot

It’s Zombie Walk day in Toronto! So the perfect day for this post.

Now that I Hate Todd’s debut single “Zombie Love” has been officially released on YouTube, I’d like to share some behind the scenes photos I took during our two days of shooting. With thanks to the amazing Lizzie Violet for the complete list of the peeps involved and the WordPress slideshow 411.

But first, some credits:

I Hate Todd

Todd Preston

Kev Carney

Capucine Adria Onn

Troy Larabie

Nelson Sobral


David Hustler

Nick Marlatt

Nick Shaw (aka Verona)

Lizzie Violet

Cate McKim


Ro Ford

Rebecca Kupferstein


Connie Bannister

Darcy Brooks

Xandria Chin

Liz Davies

Sephera Giron

Donnie MacIntyre

Kris Macknicki

Zarko Marjanovic

Chris Warrilow

Hugh Wilson

Guest Zombie

Matt Bradford of ZombieCast

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