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The Aliens
a Drama
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by Annie Baker

COMPANY : Pinch n' Ouch Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Pinch 'n' Ouch Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4760

SHOWING : July 30, 2015 - August 23, 2015

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

"Gentle and extraordinarily beautiful…inordinately delicate…Ms. Baker may just have the subtlest way with exposition of anyone writing for the theater today." —NY Times


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Robby Glade
Jasper Andy Fleming
Evan Tanner Gill
KJ Grant McGowen
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REVIEWS

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Dramatic Death
by playgoer
Sunday, August 2, 2015
1.5
I have rarely been so bored in my life. Annie Baker’s play throws together an emotionally disturbed mathematics/philosophy double major dropout (KJ, played by Grant McGowen), his emotionally distant novelist mentor (Jasper, played by Andy Fleming), and an emotionally stunted high school student (Evan, played by Tanner Gill) in the back alley of a Vermont coffee shop where the student has a summer job. Ms. Baker’s "The Aliens" (a reference to a rock band once formed by KJ and Jasper) has them sit and occasionally talk, throwing in songs and readings of novel excerpts. It’s tedious as all get-out, and not very illuminating.

KJ claims to be a genius, and claims that Jasper is one as well. It’s hard to believe this as anything other than the dramatist’s ploy to give some weight to her story, such as it is. KJ acts in highly inappropriate ways, and the only things close to an explanation we get is that his mother is very much into New Age philosophy, that he ingests psychedelic mushrooms, and that he had a breakdown just before dropping out of the University of Vermont. Jasper and KJ take Evan under their wing, trying to corrupt him with drugs and vaping. The script negates any homoerotic subtext by giving all the males not wholly satisfactory past relationships with women. Add in references to poet Charles Bukowski as an idol, and the whole thing comes across as an artificial construct with inflated pretensions. It doesn’t help that Jasper is so much older than KJ in this production, which makes their relationship something entirely different than that of two like-minded misfits and buds.

It also doesn’t help that director Robby Glade has apparently inspired his actors to search deeply and humorlessly for the emotional truth of their characters, no matter how many silences and pauses and awkward moments this may entail. The whole thing moves as slowly as a nightmare in slow motion. Perhaps Ms. Baker and Mr. Glade intend to challenge and possibly offend audiences. The profanities in the recorded pre-curtain speech are certainly intended to offend any except those who adhere to the "hip" and "edgy" artistic sensibility of Pinch ’n’ Ouch Theatre. But challenging audiences with slow-moving boredom is the opposite of entertainment.

The action supposedly takes place in Vermont, but clothes logos and stickers are too Georgia-specific to make this believable. At times, I felt I was trapped in a thrown-together local Meisner acting showcase with actors trying so hard to show "true" emotions that the falsity of their efforts was all I could see.

The set and sound design are serviceable, and Robby Glade’s lighting design is effective. ’Nuff said.
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