How to Keep an Alien

The Traverse Theatre
21st to 30th August 1815
£18 / £13 / £8

How to keep an alien

Immigration is currently an issue very close to mine, and apparently the nation’s, heart at the moment. So this play has certainly caught the zeitgeist if nothing else. However, right from the post modern winks to the warm humor it is clear from the outset that we are in for a theatrical, as well as ideological, treat. How to Keep an Alien tells the story of how Sonya, an Irish woman living in Ireland, fell in love with Kate, an Australian visiting Ireland, and their quest to get a visa that would allow Kate to live in Ireland permanently. In other words, how to prove to the state that they were truly in love. The bureaucracy of romance you might say. The unfolding adventure is told with a gentle whit that is never preachy and always pragmatic. Offering a message of hope that neither condemns or praises the current system but simply allows us to understand it a little more. Thereby offering us helpful advice and wisdom should we ever have to negotiate it ourselves. Wisdom and advice that is made ever more relevant by the fact that not only did the Sonya in question write the play based on her own experiences but even stars in it.
However, one must not ignore the fact that this is also a beautiful and tender tale of burgeoning love told with a sweetness that, as a heterosexual male, I am not afraid to admit brought an occasional tear to my eye. All made ever the more poignant by the fact that it was true. Little moments of playful surrealism also added color to the piece. Not to give too much away but anyone remember Watership Down? All in all it felt like we had entered into the romantic yet pragmatic world of Sonya Kelly for just over an hour and I have to say, it was a delightful place to be. If I were to level any criticisms at the play I might say it was at times a little slight. Not so much in the immigration message, as this lightness of touch actually served to make this element thoroughly unique and refreshing. Maybe not even with the romance where this approach only served to enhance the humanity of their relationship. But perhaps in the humor. There were a few occasions where I felt she thought she was a little funnier than she actually was. But this minor quibble aside I would recommend this play to any fan of a good story well told. And if you’re currently negotiating the complexities of the immigration system I would say it’s essential viewing. A life-affirming treat. FOUR-STARS

Reviewer : Steven Vickers

Posted on August 20, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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