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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

“The Aliens” nearly out of this world

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“The Aliens,” written by Annie Baker and directed by Bethany McHugh, opened last night in Little Nourse Theater, and will continue to run Friday and Saturday nights. A repeat of McHugh’s strong poster game drew a discerning, yet meager, crowd to the show.

“The Aliens” recalls “Suburbia” on the one year anniversary of that show’s production, but comes in a tighter package with a subtler bow. In “The Aliens” we find two dropouts, KJ and Jasper (played by John Cronin ‘18 and Nathan Bern ‘17) trespassing at the cafe where young Evan (played by Peter Alexander ‘16) has recently been hired.

Thus is established the myth to be told – the idyllic introduction of a youth to American life’s more alternative paths. The cast colored thoughtfully within these lines, well familiar the archetypes their characters so desperately and obliviously strive to fill – the madeyed beat bohemian, the dharma druggie, and the come-of-age – as well as the actualities they leave behind.

More clearly, “The Aliens” addresses an alienation relevant to a crowd caught between the ages and poles of the two dropouts and the do-good highschool kid (who would not, and does not, leave his first cigarettes undeclared). Baker does not care to hide the contention of this tension – read, Jasper might as well have said, Bukowski’s “The Aliens,” and you have yourself a hook of a summary no prosaicism could provide.

The show benefits from the purity of a three link chain – each character is bound to the lines and glances of their compatriots, such that no confession or thrown regard is left in the dark. Bern and Alexander’s characters were in semi-constant betrayal of their true nature, while Cronin carried the heaviest role with ease and experience, carry us from one minor freak-out to the next in a empathy-training suspense. Some might say that silence carries “The Aliens” – nay, shouts the critic, ‘tis the jitters, ‘tis the broken speech and adolescent voice cracks that only the utterer even notices.

Costumes have the characters caught somewhere between Green Mountain gruff and Martha’s Vineyard garb, fitting for how the play cuts at the seams of Vermont crunchiness. Beyond the succinct regional concept, humble details mean the world – Evan’s “Life is Good” t-shirt tells half the tale.

Non-intrusive lighting and sound cues guide the imagination within the limits of Little Nourse modesty. KJ bends his chair to incredible extents, Jasper the trashcan, to incredible concavities – what these plasticities could mean the critic shall not reveal.

The most singular set piece – a plastic deck table – serves as the ashy, stained canvas upon which perhaps some questionably legible passage of the temporal tale will be recorded.

And recorded it should be; McHugh’s production comes as an organic totality, sealed (excepting the rare and forgivable facial fluke) in the shadows of Little NoNo, neither towing nor being towed by Baker’s script, but rather dancing with its believability. The reviewer heartily recommends attending this spark in the dark.

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