How to Keep an Alien
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A delightfully mad romance about a visa application
Traverse 2 is awash with heartstring-tugging real life tales this Fringe, but none will make you laugh so much as Sonya Kelly’s delightful ‘How To Keep An Alien’.
It’s a love story, essentially, an account of how Irish actor Kelly fell head over heels for Kate, an Australian woman (ie, an alien) she was working with in Dublin, only to discover she had just a couple of weeks left on her visa and would shortly have to return home.
What follows is a sweet story about long-distance romance and a visa application, with the end never really in doubt. But it’s the way that Kelly tells it that makes it count. There is an air of glorious – and very carefully constructed – amateurism to Gina Moxley’s production, with the wide-eyed Kelly telling the story with a child’s sense of wonder and a stand-up’s turn of phrase as she over-explains her feelings about any given situation – launching into mad tangents about her hatred of choreographers and her opinions of Russell Crowe – with cheery zeal. And she’s not alone, having drafted in her stage manager Justin Murphy as a sort of sidekick: occasionally there to play other characters, sometimes simply to give Kelly somebody to rant at, and in one glorious non sequitur of a scene, she wanders off for a bit and he takes the mic to sing a full-throated rendition of ‘Bright Eyes’.
There does come a point where the mad ideas start to thin out slightly, with the show’s fizzy momentum slowing so the remainder of the story can be told relatively soberly. But by that stage Kelly’s so won us over that we’re all wanting to hear about her happy ending, and it’s a final, joyous endorphin hit when she tells us.