The Aliens land at Red Stitch

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I never quite know what to say about Red Stitch Actors Theatre, I always look forward to going but leave with bruised ribs and something that haunts me for days. The Aliens, their newest production, is no exception. Other theatre companies often use older work so you can become lost in the fantasy, unaffected, complacent. Red Stitch uses all new material which sits uncomfortably because these are the stories we deem important to tell ourselves and are representative of our current emotional environment, something we can’t turn away from easily.

Set in the back of a cafe amongst the garbage cans and drying tea towels sits KJ (Brett Ludeman) and Jasper (Brett Cousins) – early-thirties East Coast slackers smoking their days away conducting an autopsy on their missed potential. Along comes wide eyed innocent Evan (David Harrison) who works at the cafe and their misfit trio is completed, all three struggling with the age old themes of acceptance, inspiration and stifled creativity. Funny and unsettling, it’s Jay and Silent Bob waiting for Godot.

Although the narrative and character development was predictable enough, it’s the flesh – the small details and points of reference, that turns these characters into people you know. On the surface this is a well written and produced play, but also one of the rare cases where the performance transcends anything else on stage. Red Stitch’s actors are always excellent, dedicated and amazing – you get to see them breaking into a long sprint, breathing into places that challenge them.

All three leads are incredible but Brett Ludeman in particular is, to use a tired adjective, completely compelling and hypnotising. If you can handle a bit of bruising you’ll be rewarded with seeing the best performance on the Australian stage this year.

The Aliens by Annie Baker
Red Stitch Theatre, Rear 2 Chapel St, St. Kilda
Season dates:
Until 24 September 2011
Full $34, Conc $24, Student $20
Booking details:
Photo courtesy of David Parker

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