Thursday, September 17, 2015

How to Keep an Alien - a feel good stand against unromantic state agencies (The MAC, until 19 September)

While rehearsing a Russian play with English accents in an Irish castle, a fling becomes a thing for Irish actor Sonya and her Australian stage manager mate Kate.

But immigration bureaucracy gives their budding relationship a tight squeeze that threatens to permanently snuff out any burgeoning passion with deportation. How to Keep an Alien is soon an object lesson that teaches “falling in love requires paperwork”.

Sonya Kelly plays herself in the autobiographical lead role of this laugh out loud hour-long performance that spent the summer on the Edinburgh Fringe and on stage in The MAC this week.

Simple painted IKEA EXPEDIT (or are they the new-fangled KALLAX?) storage units filled with coloured lamps mark out the edges of the stage. Justin Murphy sits behind a desk in one corner, triggering sound effects and expertly filling in the snappy dialogue of various absent characters.

The script’s similes are outlandish – “eyes like the rabbits in Watership Down” –and alliterative and there’s a sense of performance poetry to much of the delivery. Sonya’s adventure with her alien is interspersed with diary entries from great great grandmother Ann Flanaghan’s uneasy voyage down which add perspective to the modern day emotional outbursts.
“… you want to live in Ireland, where sunshine is only a rumour? This concave tip of a rule-bending, economic wormhole full of sheep? … There’s no jobs, there’s no decent avocados …”

With some lovely moments of unexpected musical and visual humour, this one act feel good stand against unromantic state agencies has sparkle and a feeling of hope tinged with the realism that no amount of mozzie bites can make a grumpy immigration clerk believe that your relationship is real.

How to Keep an Alien is in the MAC until Saturday 19 September and tours Ireland until the end of November.

Warning: this show contains air guitar!

No comments: