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March 26, 2012

ALIENS - DREAMS BIG AND MAKES IT


Haynes Thigpen* (KJ) and Peter O'Conner (Jasper) and Brian Miskel (Evan)
Photo: Jessica Palopoli



 THE ALIENS







This is no ordinary play. The performances are extraordinary!

It’s rare to find actors so comfortable on stage as Brian Miskell (Evan), Peter O’Connor* (Jasper) and Haynes Thigpen* (KJ). Jasper and KJ--kinda take us back to the heyday of Haight Street in the 70’s. There’s the Guitar – the drinking, and some kind of stuff called ‘sroomtea, that KJ drinks. The beverage sort of looks like tea – but he ads other things to it as he relaxes on the backyard of a little café.

As the two older guys are told by the management, that they can’t sit in the backyard. Evan (Brian Miskell) who is seventeen, at first doesn’t know how to deal with them. On one hand he is fascinated in this new world, and on the other hand – he wants to keep his job.

KJ and Jasper spend all their time leaning against the trash bins. The charming, wide-eyed Evan doesn’t know what to think about them, as Jasper reads his novel to TJ. “Hey man” – he says to Jasper. “You’re play is turning me on.” Talk in “Aliens” is very sparse. There are lots of long pregnant silences. When they do talk its in very short sentences like: “Why do people Practice lighting fireworks? Annie Baker’s play sure knows how to make us feel emotionally close to the on-stage stoners.

Annie Baker has managed to capture a “tightly constructed terrific play.” It’s highly polished entertainment. This is the kind of the play that seems very real. Those people on the stage are more real than I could have imagined. The silent moments are may seem strange – but the ‘moments’ are still telling us something. Like me, you will read between the lines. Believe me – this is one terrific stage play. And hey, here’s the best news – “There is an intermission. That alone will make the night special for you.

HERE COME THE DESIGNERS: Bill English has again turned a small stage into a miracle. Michael Palumbo’s Lighting is just perfect. The Sound effects by Brendan Aanes is perfect. Christine Crooks Costumes are right-on. Fabulous direction is by Lila Neugebauer.

NOW PLAYING AT THE SF PLAYHOUSE @ SUTTER NEAR POWELL

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) – trademarked-- 

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))


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Greeks open at Thrillpeddlers March 28.


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