Alien on Stage Art

Alien On Stage (2020) Review – Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival

One of my favourites of all the films I saw at this year’s Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival was Alien On Stage. The SFFF team really goes the extra mile in putting the effort into finding novel ideas as far as documentaries go. I went into it not really knowing what to expect, other than that it was one of two documentaries they were screening, the other being Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror. It really is a one-of-a-kind documentary, though, and the story is so inspiring. Because everyone loves a good underdog.

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A bunch of bus drivers from a company based in Dorset, UK have decided to bite off more of a challenge with the amateur theatre group they pursue in their spare time. Forgoing productions of Snow White or Sleeping Beauty this time, the group decide to take a crack at the classic sci-fi film Alien. After the first go-around is admittedly a flop, the tenacious team chooses to try again and in a stroke of luck and great buzz, the group finds themselves preparing for the pinnacle of their careers-a sold-out performance on the West End of London.

I knew I had to see this movie because I adore the original Alien movie, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver. What surprised me about Alien on Stage was how faithful the actors were to the source material. Another thing that surprised me was how incredibly creative and ingenious they were with props, special effects, sets, and lighting. The scenes that had characters crawling through ceiling vents were especially clever.

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For a portion of Alien on Stage, the pacing felt a little bit off. However, I felt the actors just being themselves more than made up for that, and the way they owned their characters was great. I especially enjoyed the actor who played Ash. Offstage, the actors feel like regular, ordinary people, bumbling through their lines struggling to get off-book by a certain deadline, talking about juggling commitments like working and acting and being in school. And being typical documentary-style talking heads, discussing their show’s prospects after their Alien show’s first flop and how to move forward over pints of beer at the pub.

Once they lock in their sold-out performance at West End, however, the pace of the movie develops quickly and you can almost feel the audience leaning in with anticipation. Then, once they’re in the West End theatre and the director is discussing which lights to use for the production with the stage manager, the whole show starts to feel very real. Truthfully, the actors are all so funny and likeable, you won’t be able to help but cheer for them as they race toward their goal of pulling it all off. Alien on Stage is a must-see for any Alien fan.

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