Auckland Arts Festival: How to Keep an Alien - Review

by James Wenley / 24 March, 2017

How to Keep an Alien is a tale of falling in love and proving it to the government. Photo/Anthony Woods.

6/10

Collective head explosion

Arcane immigration policies are given a human face in this cross-hemisphere love story threatened by an Irish visa running out. 

Sonya, an actor living in Ireland, meets Kate, a stage-manager visiting from Australia while working on a play. With two weeks until Kate’s deportation, they begin a showmance, revelling in their “futureless passion.” Sonya tells us that if life was a movie, she’d have joined Kate on her flight back to Australia, but “life is not a movie.” We are, however, watching a stage-show, and we know that there are plot developments and dramatic reversals yet to come.

Sonya has the actor’s insecurity that she has wasted her life “pretending to be fake people.” Through How to Keep an Alien, Sonya Kelly seems to have solved the problem by playing herself in this autobiographical show. She’s a loveable performer with an easy humour and penchant for droll similes and metaphors (romance is described as a dopamine Jacuzzi with serotonin bath salts). The Auckland audience also rather enjoy her dips into the Aussie accent.

The relationship between an actor and their stage-manager is presented by having Paul Curley sit at an on-stage desk and support her from the side. Too often these interactions are distracting or cloying, and the set-up that Sonya has written some things in the script for him to do just before this particular performance is unnecessary. I’d say get rid of the role, if not for Curley’s show-stealing musical solo.

Soon enough Kate wangles her way back to Ireland on a holiday visa, and they decide to try to make things more permanent. This brings them to the Irish immigration service, and they are told that one qualification for a de-facto visa is that they need to show that they have spent two years together, yet the rules were preventing them from doing exactly that. I’m pretty sure all our heads collectively exploded at that point.

The request to quantify their relationship for the immigration service has a number of possibilities for dramatic soul searching. How do we prove a feeling? Why do we love each other? Do we love each other? These aren’t fully exploited. True, there are some prickly moments, as Sonya asks, “how do people go through all this and not want to kill each other?”, but Kate remains safely perched on a pedestal for the most part.

There’s an acknowledgement that not all immigration or asylum experiences end happily, but there’s never much doubt how this one will go (especially once they figure out exactly what is involved to gain that de-facto visa). This show provides the feels, right down to the final “real-life” movie-montage. Is it hot in here, or is my heart feeling warm?

How to Keep an Alien, Q Loft, until March 26.

Auckland Arts Festival 2017


Get Metro delivered to your inbox

Subscribe now

 

/MetromagnzL @Metromagnz @Metromagnz

 

 

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

How China’s skewed sex ratio is making President Xi’s job a lot harder
81865 2017-10-21 00:00:00Z World

How China’s skewed sex ratio is making President X…

by David Skidmore

As odd as it sounds, China’s economic policy is being held hostage by its heavily skewed sex ratio.

Read more
Allen Curnow: The poet who helped define New Zealand
81753 2017-10-21 00:00:00Z Profiles

Allen Curnow: The poet who helped define New Zeala…

by Sally Blundell

A new literary biography takes the measure of poet Allen Curnow, whose work helped define New Zealand’s voice.

Read more
Does sugar really cause kids' hyperactivity?
81849 2017-10-21 00:00:00Z Health

Does sugar really cause kids' hyperactivity?

by Marc Wilson

Parents blame sugar for causing kids’ hyperactivity, but the evidence suggests it’s not the culprit.

Read more
Minority Rules: Who will be the first voted off Coalition Island?
81921 2017-10-20 15:49:43Z Politics

Minority Rules: Who will be the first voted off Co…

by Jane Clifton

As a reality-TV show full of dramatic challenges, this new Labour-led Government has a lot going for it.

Read more
How to blend your TV into your interior style
81897 2017-10-20 14:13:55Z Technology

How to blend your TV into your interior style

by Noted

Most TVs are a central part of the living areas while at the same time, taking it over. Samsung's Frame TV hangs on the wall like a piece of artwork.

Read more
A play about Tinder, plus more upcoming Auckland theatre
81874 2017-10-20 11:49:18Z What's on

A play about Tinder, plus more upcoming Auckland t…

by India Hendrikse

Your guide to what's on now and later in Auckland

Read more
The decision's been made, what comes next for New Zealand politics?
81839 2017-10-20 06:58:41Z Politics

The decision's been made, what comes next for New …

by Richard Shaw

Expect some questions about how NZ forms governments, an angry National in Opposition and curiosity about political odd couple Ardern and Peters.

Read more
Bill English concedes: 'We all know the rules, we play by them'
81833 2017-10-20 06:15:01Z Politics

Bill English concedes: 'We all know the rules, we …

by RNZ

Mr English, flanked by his wife and senior party colleagues, appeared emotional towards the end of a short press conference accepting the decision.

Read more