Monday, May 9, 2011

INTELLIGENT LIFE • HotCity Theatre

It's really been an extraterrestrial kind of week!

You guys remember Fox and Scully right?  That is, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully of the incredibly popular Fox network series, "The X-Files".  Well, much like that show, this play, written by Lauren Dusek Albonico, on the surface looks at the possibility of extraterrestrial life with a little subtext of religion and issues of blind faith thrown in.  This is the first professional production of this play that was a finalist in HotCity's GreenHouse New Plays Festival.

A basement "office" serves as headquarters for a motley crew of Utah alien chasers.  There's Robin (Aarya Sara Locker) -- a dedicated believer, Beau (Scott Schneider) -- her slacker ex-boyfriend, and Gary (Kevin Beyer) -- a recovering alcoholic who has been kicked out of his house, along for the ride.  They all think they may have just hit the mother lode.  Enter Aethan (Parker S. Donovan), a highly intelligent boy who has run away from home.  Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Beau and Gary kidnap this kid, convinced at the time that Aethan is not of this world.  They soon learn that he's not an alien, just a highly intelligent boy with a knack for telekinesis and his own version of pig latin.  These special qualities are more than enough to convince Robin that this kid is the real deal -- a bona fide alien.  The reality of the situation is kept from Robin though, and we're given a peek at just how far people are willing to extend a non-truth, and how little it takes for believers to believe.  Things get more complicated when the disappearance of Aethan hits the news.

Kevin Beyer (Gary), Parker S. Donovan (Aethan)
and Scott Schneider (Beau).
Photo credit: John Lamb
Each character has a little "this is who I am" monologue couched within short scenes that give you the feel of a documentary filming.  This includes Emily Fisher's Jessie -- Beau's current girlfriend.  She's a waitress at Hooters, but possibly the most sensible of the group.  These moments are kinda cool.  They fill you in on everyone's background, and the feel that they're filming segments for a reality show or documentary of some kind was a neat touch I thought.  The ending catches you by surprise -- an unexpected twist that gives the whole thing a touch of seriousness.

Under Annamaria Pileggi's well paced direction, the performances were first-rate across the board, and Alan McClintock as the local cop gives a very amusing pre-show announcement.  The basement set (C. Otis Sweezey) was nicely detailed down to the Star Wars poster on the wall.  The lighting and costumes (Michael Sullivan and Jane Sullivan) served the story well, and the incidental music (Matthew Koch) between scenes was perfect.

Is it alien month or something?!  Between this show and DARK MATTERS, if I see any weird lights outside my window, I swear I'm gonna head straight for the basement, dude.


Emily Fisher (Jessie), Kevin Beyer (Gary),
Parker S. Donovan (Aethan) and Scott Schneider (Beau).
Photo credit: John Lamb
INTELLIGENT LIFE

Written by Lauren Dusek Albonico
Directed by Annamaria Pileggi
Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Blvd.
through May 14 | tickets: $20 - $25
Performances Thursday and Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 3pm and 8pm, Sundays at 7pm

Cast:
Emily Fisher (Jessie), Kevin Beyer (Gary), Alan McClintock (Terrence), Aarya Sara Locker * (Robin), Scott Schneider (Beau), and Parker S. Donovan (Aethan).
*Member Actors' Equity Association


Creative:
Scenic design by C. Otis Sweezey; lighting design by Michael Sullivan; costume design by Jane Sullivan; sound design by Matthew Koch; stage manager, Kate Koch.

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