by Tracy Letts


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This dark comedy takes place in a seedy motel room outside Oklahoma City, where Agnes, a drug-addled cocktail waitress, is hiding from her ex-con ex-husband. Her lesbian biker friend R.C. introduces her to Peter, a handsome drifter who might be an AWOL Gulf War veteran. They soon begin a relationship that takes place almost entirely within the increasingly claustrophobic confines of her motel room. Peter begins to rant about the war in Iraq, UFOs, the Oklahoma City bombings, cult suicides, and then secret government experiment on soldiers, of which he believes he is a victim. His delusions infect Agnes and the tension mounts as mysterious strangers appear at their door, past events haunt them at every turn and they are attacked by real bugs. Tracy Letts's tale of love, paranoia, and government conspiracy is a thought-provoking psycho-thriller that mixes terror and laughter at a fever pitch.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810123489
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Publication date: 08/30/2006
Edition description: 1
Pages: 120
Sales rank: 292,655
Product dimensions: 8.96(w) x 5.92(h) x 0.29(d)

About the Author

An ensemble member at the Steppenwolf Theater, Tracy Letts is an actor, director, and playwright, who has appeared in several motion pictures and television shows in addition to his stage credits. His first play Killer Joe was a blockbuster hit on London's West End in 1993 and won the Fringe First Award from the Edinburgh Theater Festival. The Barrow Street Theater production of Bug was the winner of the 2004 Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. Also, Letts's screenplay of Bug will soon be filmed, starring Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon, and directed by William Friedkin. His most recent play Man From Nebraska was named one of Time magazine's ten best theater events of 2003 and was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Letts is the recipient of the 2005 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation. He divides his time between New York City and Chicago.

Read an Excerpt


Copyright © 2006

Tracy Letts
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8101-2348-9

Chapter One BUG

CHARACTERS Agnes White, forty-four years old

R.C. (Ronnie)

Peter Evans, twenty-seven years old

Jerry Goss, early forties

Dr. Sweet


A motel room on the outskirts of Oklahoma City


The present



[Lights fade up to a dim glow on AGNES. She stands in the open doorway of the motel room, staring into the night, smoking a cigarette, a little drunk, an empty wineglass in her hand. Radio salsa music drifts in from the room next door. Traffic drones monotonously on a nearby highway. A long, still moment. The phone rings. She sways to the bed, flops on it, answers the phone.]







Jerry? Is that you?


Jerry? It's you, idn't it. You son of a bitch.

[She hangs up. She spots her waitress apron on the floor by the bed, grabs it, pulls out a wad of bills. After riffling through it, she drops the money in the bedside table drawer. She then carries the apron to a glass jug filled with loose change and dumps the change from the apron into the jug. She wraps up the apron, chucks it in the closet.

She checks the air conditioner, flips a couple of switches. She bangs it with her fist and it rumbles into life.

She goes to the table, finds her empty wine bottle, pitches it. Grabs an unopened bottle, searches for the corkscrew, finds it, opens the wine, searches for her glass, finds it on the bed, pours a drink. Talks to herself inaudibly.

She collects dirty dishes, carries them to the bathroom. Runs water in the sink, throws in some soap, dumps the dishes in. Catches herself in the mirror, sees something she doesn't like, puts on lipstick.

The phone rings again. She turns off the water, comes back to the living room, answers the phone.]



Fuck you.

[She hangs up. Talks to herself. The phone rings again. She answers it.]

Jerry? Where are you? Did you get out?


You're gonna call me, you might as well talk. All you do this way is freak me out.


Fuck off, all right? I don't need this shit. Fuckin' hardleg.


Hello? Jerry?


Y'know I can call the cops. If they trace it to you, you're busted, you're in direct, y'know, whatever.


I got a gun.

[She hangs up quickly. The phone rings again. She gets off the bed, crosses quickly to the door, shuts and locks it. She crosses back toward the bed, a couple of hesitant steps. She stares at the phone as it continues to ring. Lights fade out. In the blackout: country-and-western music.]


[Lights up on AGNES on the bed, smoking a rock of freebase out of a pipe. R.C. sits beside her, chopping and arranging six lines of cocaine with a razor blade. Country and western plays on the boom box.]

AGNES: Fuck's he doin' here?

R.C.: He's goin' to the party with me-

AGNES: Where'd he come from?

R.C.: He was at the club-

AGNES: I don't know him, I don't know what shit he's into-

R.C.: He's all right, he's just quiet-

AGNES: He's a fuckin' maniac, for all I know-

R.C.: -he's harmless, he's just hangin' out-

AGNES: How do you know? You know him?

R.C.: Hell, yes, I know him, of course I know him-

AGNES: He's a maniac DEA ax murderer, Jehovah's Witness-

R.C.: Suckin' on that pipe like it's his mama's tit, probably safe to say he's not real high up in the DEA-

AGNES: Don't bring people here with you, R.C., I don't trust-

R.C.: Go to this party with us.

AGNES: I'm too fucked up.

R.C.: It's a party, for God's sake-

AGNES: I don't know any of those people.

R.C.: You know me, you know Lavoice-

AGNES: You know what I mean-

R.C.: You know Peter. Play your cards right, maybe you'll get bred.

AGNES: Don't even start-

R.C.: You don't think he's good-lookin'?

AGNES: Ted Bundy was good-lookin'-

R.C.: Ted Bundy's dead-

AGNES: -that German guy-

R.C.: Don't tell me you don't wanna get laid-

AGNES: Gettin' laid is one thing-

AGNES: -wakin' up with my R.C.: -if you don't mind some head missin' is somethin' sweaty mongoloid on top of else entirely. been callin' again.

R.C.: What's he want?

AGNES: He don't talk. He just breathes.

R.C.: You sure it's him.

AGNES: Who else would it be?

R.C.: Then you're not sure.

AGNES: It's him, I know it's him. Calls started right after he got out.

R.C.: Get you a police whistle and blast it into the phone.

AGNES: I'm hopin' he'll just get bored.

R.C.: You be careful. That man's dangerous.

AGNES: I know it-

R.C.: I can't believe they let him out. I figured he'd kill somebody in there and they'd throw away the key. [Yelling into the bathroom] Hey, whyn'tcha give somebody else a chance?!

AGNES: I never been that lucky.

R.C.: Don't you let him in, he comes back here.

[PETER enters from the bathroom. AGNES passes him the freebase pipe. During the following, he fixes the pipe, hits it. R.C. offers a rolled-up dollar bill to AGNES, who uses it to snort her lines.]

AGNES: I hope he don't come by. PETER: I'm not an ax murderer.

R.C.: Wishful thinkin'.

AGNES: It's been two years.

R.C.: He's callin', ain't he? It ain't like he forgot you.

AGNES: Right-

R.C.: Get some bars on your windows maybe.

AGNES: You can just stand outside and throw peanuts at me.

R.C.: Get an attack dog.

AGNES: I can take care of myself.

R.C.: He won't be satisfied until he's-

AGNES: So I need to get an PETER: I'm not an ax murderer. attack dog-?

AGNES: I'm sorry, what?

PETER: I'm not an ax murderer.

R.C.: Can I use your phone?

AGNES [to R.C.]: Sure. [To PETER] I didn't really think you were.

PETER: Okay.

AGNES [re cocaine]: Here you go ...


[R.C. yells into the phone, trying to be heard over the sounds of a party at the other end of the line.]

R.C.: Hey, hello?! Who is this?! PETER: I don't snort it. Who?! Is Lavoice there?! Lavoice! She's ... she's got AGNES: You was hittin' that short ... Hello?! pipe pretty good.

[Beat.] [Beat.]

Hey, I'm trying to find PETER: I know, I just don't like Lavoice! Lavoice! She's a the powder. It's not healthy. big dyke, all right?! Named Lavoice! [Beat.]

[Beat.] AGNES: I didn't exactly have you pegged as the health Hey, girl, what the fuck is nut type- goin' on over there?! It sounds like ...! PETER: You're very beautiful. AGNES: Huh?

[Beat.] PETER: I said you're very beautiful.

I say it sounds like the end of the world! AGNES: Thank you.

PETER: You're welcome. [Laughs. Beat.]

AGNES: Thank you.

He said what now?! Speak PETER: I'm sorry if I up! embarrassed you.

AGNES: I just don't take [Beat.] compliments very well.

Well, are you all right?


You tell him he lays another fuckin' hand on you, he's gonna have to deal with me! All right, then, I'm gettin' outta here! You gonna be there?!


No, don't try to leave, I'm comin'!


All right, I'm on my way! I'll see you there! All right! Bye!

[R.C. hangs up the phone.]

R.C.: I gotta get outta here. Some guy grabbed Lavoice, or squeezed somethin', and she slapped him and he threatened her or some shit. I hate to eat 'n' run, but-

AGNES: Don't worry. Listen, you have-?

R.C.: I got you all set up, sister.

[R.C. gives AGNES a small glass vial of cocaine.]

AGNES: Let me grab my-

R.C.: I'll get it from you at work.

AGNES: You sure?

R.C.: Yep. Let's saddle up, Johnny Depp.

PETER: I've changed my mind.

R.C.: What's the matter?

PETER: Nothing. I'll just go from here.

[R.C. kisses AGNES good night, brief, intimate.]

AGNES: Will you call me?

R.C.: I'll see you at work.

AGNES: Call me.

R.C.: All right.

AGNES: You promise?

R.C.: I'll call. We'll do something this week, okay? [To PETER] Don't do anything I wouldn't do.

[R.C. darts out, pulling the door behind her. AGNES and PETER take each other in.]

AGNES: You want one last drink? PETER: I guess I'll go then.

[Quick beat.] [Quick beat.]

I should get to bed Yeah, I could have another anyway- Coke-

AGNES: Help yourself.

PETER: Thanks.

[AGNES tidies the room, dumping some empties, cleaning an ashtray. PETER gets a Coke from the fridge and wipes the top of the can with his shirtsleeve.]

You've known each other awhile.

AGNES: Few years, I guess.

PETER: I just met her tonight.

AGNES: Why'd you change your mind about the party?

PETER: I don't know. It just didn't seem like my cup of tea.

[He opens the Coke.]

AGNES: Have a real drink, for Chrissake. People who don't drink make me nervous.

PETER: I make people nervous anyway.


AGNES: Why's that?

PETER: 'Cause I pick up on things, I think. That makes people uncomfortable.

AGNES: Pick up on things.

PETER: Things not apparent.

AGNES: That's a talent.

PETER: Mm-hm.

AGNES: What do you pick up from me?

PETER: You're lonely. I know that much.

AGNES: Doesn't exactly make you Jeane Dixon.

PETER: Who's Jeane Dixon?

AGNES: She was ... y' know, that psychic, told Teddy Kennedy that Jack'd get shot.

PETER: Oh. You live here?

AGNES: Yeah.

PETER: In the motel.

AGNES: Yeah.

PETER: That's weird.

AGNES: Why is that weird?

PETER: I don't know.


Can I put on some more music?

AGNES: Yeah, sure.

[He goes to the boom box, puts on music. AGNES fixes the freebase pipe. She and PETER hit the pipe during the following.]

I get maid service. All my bills are paid, except the phone.

PETER: I didn't want to go.

AGNES: You didn't want to go. Where, to the-

PETER: I didn't want to leave. I just, I guess I'd just like to talk.

AGNES: Uh ...

PETER: You're suspicious.

AGNES: Not particularly. I don't know you.

PETER: No, of course not.

AGNES: Anybody, really, comes into your place, a stranger-

PETER: No, I know what you mean. Because I'm suspicious, I think, that's my nature. But I'm trying to start something different.

AGNES: With me.

PETER: No, just ... I don't mean to freak you out, I'm just trying to make a connection or whatever.

AGNES: Right ...

PETER: I'd like to see you again.

AGNES: How do you mean?

PETER: I mean ... see you again, what I said.

AGNES: I don't, I don't know.

PETER: Okay, I-

AGNES: I don't party like this ever' night or nothin', so don't-

PETER: I just wanted to see you.


PETER: Just ... why people like to see each other. Jesus, I don't want anything weird.

AGNES: 'Cause a man's the last thing I need.

PETER: I don't want to go to bed with you.

AGNES: Now don't butter me up or nothin'.

PETER: I'm not good for much anyway.

AGNES: What's that mean?

PETER: Women aren't really my bag.

AGNES: You a homo?

PETER: I'm not anything, really. I'm done with that. I'm just looking for a friend.

AGNES: You a con?

PETER: No, ma'am.

AGNES: Don't call me "ma'am." Make me feel like your mother.

PETER: You're not old enough to be my mother.

AGNES: Good.

PETER: She's dead anyway.

AGNES: Sorry.

PETER: She's been dead a long time.

AGNES: You don't even sound like you're from Oklahoma.

PETER: I'm from Beaver.

AGNES: Ah, well, we're all from Beaver, ain't we?

PETER: Pardon?

AGNES: Skip it.

PETER: Up in the Panhandle. My dad's a preacher up there.

AGNES: What church's he preach at?

PETER: He doesn't have a church.

AGNES: Where's he meet his congregation?

PETER: He doesn't have one, really.


[PETER examines her motel artwork: a large, brightly painted abstract, done in oil, possibly depicting a south-of-the-border street scene.]

First day I moved in here, I said I was gonna take that piece of shit down. I got to where I kind of like it.


AGNES: I dunno. It's kinda like ... "Margaritaville."

PETER: There's stuff in it.

AGNES: Stuff?

PETER: Hidden stuff.

AGNES: You mean like a ... What do you mean?

PETER: People and things. If you really look at it.

[She studies the painting.]

You have to look at it hard enough. You'll see it.

AGNES: That's weird.

PETER: Do you hear that?

AGNES: What?

[He turns off the boom box.]

I don't hear nothin'.

PETER: Listen.

[They listen. Silence.]

AGNES: You're hearin' things.

[A high-pitched chirp. Another silence. Another chirp.]


PETER: What is that, is that-?

AGNES: Goddamn cricket.

[Another chirp.]

Jesus ...

[She looks for the cricket.]

Can you tell where it's comin' from?

PETER: Sounds like it's-

AGNES: Over here, right?

[Another chirp.]

PETER: No, maybe it's ...

[He helps her look for it.]

AGNES: Don't kill him. It's bad luck.

PETER: Why is that, do you think?

AGNES: Some smart-ass cricket probably just made it up.

[Another chirp.]

It's in the bathroom.

PETER: Really? I thought-

AGNES: I'll bet it's ...

[She goes into the bathroom.]

PETER: Do you see it?


[Another chirp.]

Goddamn it-

PETER: It's out here.

[She reenters.]

AGNES: Where?

PETER: I don't know. Up there.


Excerpted from BUG by TRACY LETTS
Copyright © 2006 by Tracy Letts. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Table of Contents

Production History

Act One
Act Two

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Bug 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
cinesnail88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't go into this play expecting anything except the possibility of it being disturbing and the hope of it being good.Well, it did pretty well. Letts has been a favorite with me lately, and this play was as well written as all his other work. When I closed it, I was disturbed. It was weird, and odd, and just downright interesting. I'm not even sure what to think in the long run. That's how weird it is.That said, if you know you like Letts' style, you should definitely read it. It won't disappoint.