Extro-Terrestrial

Wed 15th – Fri 24th August 2018

reviews

Alina Young

at 11:45 on 23rd Aug 2018

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A group of young introverts are abducted and studied by aliens in this humorous and charming original play. Presented through a bizarre contextual story, the play is really a study of introversion itself — what it feels like to live in a society that doesn’t favour the way you approach relationships.

Upbeat and fun, the charismatic cast embrace the silliness on the surface of ‘Extro-Terrestrial’. Wonderful choreography and jovial dialogue makes the whole show light, yet the undercurrent is an earnest discussion about the potential pitfalls of how people socialise.

It is obvious that the ensemble devised, or at the very least strongly connected to, the subject matter: their portrayal of social awkwardness comes from empathy for those emotions. While it’s easy to fall into a laboured ‘misfits’ storyline, their energetic and heartfelt performances keep the show from feeling cliché. The director must be commended for their focus on bringing out the individuality of characters, a key thematic point that the actors portray beautifully.

The show’s ‘Alien’ concept is a parallel to the distance between the two proposed ‘species’ of human — introverts and extroverts. As the aliens, an extroverted race, fail to understand the way introverts interact, they conduct almost an anthropological study of such a foreign creature. It's an interesting way to think about intro- versus extro- version; how people approach relationships does feel like a cultural phenomenon, and the feeling of interacting with an 'alien' race is a fitting metaphor for this miscommunication. The show ultimately demonstrates, without cheesiness, the value of being an introvert and how essential their minds are to a successful society.

The production design is an extraordinary achievement. A white space-age set, complete with sophisticated neon lights, is practical and stunning. The sound design is equally polished. It's remarkable that this is a student production, as the quality and detail of the show visually is commendable on any standards.

With such a strong concept, a well-paced script and funny cast, the only thing holding the show back is the lack of resolution. It seems as though the plot finishes with loose ends. However, this doesn't especially detract from the accomplishment of the production as a whole, and from an entertaining hour that presents fresh ideas about how we interact.

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Beatrix Swanson Scott

at 12:32 on 23rd Aug 2018

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Four nerds (we quickly know they must be that from their mentions of Star Wars and Doctor Who, their unstylish clothes and their exaggerated social awkwardness) are stuck in a lift in Worcester, when suddenly they are abducted by aliens. Held in some sort of flying saucer, they soon realise that an extremely extroverted alien race has kidnapped them to study their social difficulties. It’s obvious all too quickly – Shenanigans Theatre Company’s ‘Extro-Terrestrial’ is about two tropes of people, extroverts and introverts, and specifically about how extroverts feel like aliens to nerds and introverts. Unfortunately, everything from the message to the plot twist to the ending felt predictable and hackneyed.

With so much going on at the Fringe, I realise how difficult it is for productions to make a big impression on their audience. Sadly, I did not feel at all engaged in this show – from the stereotype-filled acting of varying quality onstage to my constant speculation as to why this show was being put on, I just couldn’t get on board with it. As someone who has been involved in a lot of amateur theatre of varying quality, I couldn’t help feeling that this production could have benefitted so much from cutting the hallmarks of student theatre and improv it was exhibiting – namely, crowd-speak (people babbling over each other but not really saying anything), excessive shouting and unnecessarily prevalent sarcasm.

It must be said that this production made great use of its professional-level lighting and design. It’s also impossible not to applaud the group’s enthusiasm, or acknowledge that some sequences were quite funny. Unfortunately, I felt like the actors were enjoying themselves a lot more than I was – getting a sense of performers having a great time on stage when you’re in the audience generally only works out well if the enthusiasm is infectious. My favourite part of the show had nothing to do with introversion or sci-fi – it was one cast member’s rapid-fire outburst of frustration at those who look down on people who put the milk in the tea-cup first (of course, anyone would be perfectly justified in looking down on such bizarre behaviour).

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