[Fantasia Fest 2021] ALIEN ON STAGE Review: A Heartfelt Journey from the Little League to the Big Time

By: Emily von Seele

Alien On Stage

There is insurmountable joy to be found in stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They don’t have to be earth-shattering, heroic deeds. Sometimes they are small and sometimes they are what the outside world might call “silly.” But to the people doing them, they are everything. A mountain that has been scaled. A monster that has been defeated. Sometimes just having a dream and seeing it brought to fruition can be the most exciting feeling of one’s life. And for those of us who get to watch, it is so thrilling to experience this high vicariously.

Alien On Stage documents the story of an amateur theater group made up of bus drivers from Dorset, England who put on a stage production of Alien for their annual holiday play. The initial run kind of bombed, but enough word got out to pique the interest of some intrepid fans, and before long, the group was invited to bring their production to the West End and perform in the big leagues, for one night only.

It’s hard not to fall in love with this movie from the second it rolls. The work that went into this production is nothing short of incredible, and from minute one, you’re rooting for this group. They might not have the background or the skills, but they are putting their whole heart into this production and doing everything they can to make it work.

From the flubs in rehearsals to the forgotten lines to the sheer terror they’re facing as the days tick down to London, we’re rooting for them. Not just because they’re “the little guys” but because we have seen how much work they have put into it. They prepared for a year before their first show, building sets, costumes, and special effects from internet tutorials and items they found at the hardware store. Nobody on this team is a professional. This is something that they do in their spare time for the fun of it. But you don’t have to be a special effects wizard to make magic happen onstage. What they are able to put together with limited budget and know-how is pretty incredible. Incredible, while also still having the home-spun feel of an amateur production.

There is so much heart in this film, it’s impossible not to watch it without feeling a sense of joy. Not only heart from the production itself and from the tireless work that the actors and crew put into bringing this story to the stage. But from their audience as well. They are performing for a theatre full of fans of Ridley Scott’s classic film, who have come to see that story executed and told in a new way. Every time one of our favorite scenes starts, you can feel the excitement. Whenever we hit a new and terrifying moment, you can feel the anticipation. When the alien itself finally appears, it is to thunderous applause. It’s the feeling you get from experiencing something with a group who loves that thing as much as you do.

Alien On Stage is a labor of love from all angles, and one that immediately makes you feel connected with the doc’s subjects. You will cheer, you will laugh, you will hold your breath in anticipation, and when it’s all over, you will share in their victory.

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