How to Keep an Alien at the Cube

September 13, 2014

This darling show from The Savage Eye’s Sonya Kelly, produced by Rough Magic, does exactly what you’d expect from the star and creator of the much toured, much lauded The Wheelchair on my Face. It’s very funny, very sweet with sufficient tang to prevent projectile cynicism.

A withering glance across a ‘ballroom’ between an Irish actress and an Aussie stage manager, sets off a landslide of paperwork as these sarky lovebirds battle bureaucracy to keep their love in flight.

No mater what the Captain and Tennille tell you, you’ll need more than love to keep you together in this country, particularly if you make less than 60k per year.

And as our heroes come up with a multitude of stop-gap measures to keep their relationship going- holiday visas, round the world trips, tours with National Theatre of Scotland, Kelly keeps proceedings light with a face that gesticulates with the precision of Mossad.

The girl could spasm for the duration of the show and be met with rapturous applause at the end. Gay rights are the new black and combined with Kelly’s winning charm, there’s enough boxes ticked to placate the bias and demands of the general theatre going population.

But Kelly is better than the simplistic hyperbole affixed to her work. A comic of the finest fettle, she curries her performance with insecurity, her growing concern at the mocking hands of time putting a real charge in her verbal bitch slaps.

Director Gina Moxley injects the piece with theatricality, but never enough to dim Kelly’s pissed-off panic, which reaches far beyond the subject of this play.

Best of all is her knowledge that the best jokes-the ones that don’t just land but cause craters on our conscience, are not just well written or well delivered, but are insightful and well placed. This is an incredibly well constructed work that remembers that, though this may be her story, she’s making it public for a greater good, to entertain and educate the public.

The banter with her on stage stage manager is the shows weakest link, cracking jokes that will probably have little impact on those outside the industry. It’s a diversion that is too obviously what it is-an excuse for Kelly to catch her breath.

There’s also a little too much dallying on irrelevant, if funny, details early on, so that Kelly’s later self-realisation in Oz feels like it’s dragging.

And I may be an unsentimental schmuck, but I could have done without the visual montage of true life documents Kelly-and Kate (from Queensland), had gathered to make their case to the Gardai, ruining my own imaginings of a world that Kelly built-in my mind.

But the audience ahhhhh-ed on cue, which may have been the point, a rare succumbing to schmaltz in an otherwise sharp work.


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