PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 April, 1999, 12:00am

Bugs, La Cremeria, Fringe, April 21 (until Saturday, April 24) Modernity might be everyone's goal as the millennium approaches, but it is a double-edged sword.

Although mass transport provides an efficient, cheap and speedy means of travel, it has also made commuting a banal, often stressful experience.

Meanwhile, advancements in division and structuring of labour seem to have yielded much inefficiency, confusion and work that have turned into dehumanising chores.

Bugs is a play that zeroes in on the tedium of modern life.

From the absurdities of a mechanical office life to the emptiness of hedonistic pleasures, Bugs points out that a life we think is enriching and civilised actually drains humanity.

There are scenes that Hong Kong's hectic posse will easily identify with: the strain of keeping up with paperwork and document trays in the pursuit of perfection; masochist binges celebrating nothingness and mystifying episodes figuring out who your friends really are.

Portraying the banality of a monotonous existence is a difficult task; too straightforward and the play becomes as boring as real-life; overdo it and you end up with a gag-drenched farce.

Bugs has chosen a path that works well, mocking monotony in a way that is quite surreal.

So the flatmate we do not understand metamorphoses from a slacker into a Special Unit cop; bosses that irritate and hassle become monsters who nitpick to extremes.

Simon Wu's script is finely executed, and actors-cum-directors Willy Wong and Rico Wu live up to his challenge.

Wong's performance, as the main protagonist plagued by internal demons and external provocation, is more than competent.

Wu has also mastered his myriad roles well, turning from a numb office messenger to a brash manager within seconds.

With a new century about to dawn upon us, many more plays will start delving into pre-millennium angst.

Bugs provides a yardstick to stretch its successors.