"In theatre no-one can hear you scream" unless you head down to the Sweet Dukebox this Fringe to see One Woman Alien, billed as a one hour (standard Fringe fair) one woman (for obvious reasons) one cult movie (Alien) with a stuffed cat. For sci-fi movie geeks what's not to like? Heather-Rose Andrews is wonderfully frenetic as she delivers an energetic performance in a sweaty boiler suit, tackling all seven major characters in the cult movie classic from 1979, with the aid of a false beard, a blonde wig, a stuffed alien mask and some milk.
For sci-fi movie geeks what's not to like?
Armed with a piece of chalk, she shakily replicates the opening credits. But this is not merely one woman's amusing take on a slice of movie history, as throughout the piece Andrews constantly reminds us how Alien has since become known as one of the first 'accidental' feminist films. It was the performance of Sigourney Weaver as the bad-ass-alien-kicking Ripley that placed the film firmly at the centre of this retrospective feminist revolution – despite the fact that Tom Skerrit's character, Captain Dallas, still received top billing in the cinema at the time.
The litmus test that secures Alien's place in the realms of feminist films is called Bechdel-Wallace. It's always good to learn a new fact every day and this is one fact that every self-respecting feminist should know: The Bechdel-Wallace test is named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, in whose comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, the test first appeared in 1985. It asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The test is used as an indicator for the active presence of women in films and other fiction, and to call attention to gender inequality in fiction. Tongue-in-cheek, Andrews points out that the dialogue between the two female characters is only a couple of minutes long and is centred around the fact that the spaceship they're travelling in is lost.
Andrew's multi-charactisation, swapping wigs for beards and even re-enacting a fight scene, provides much of the evening's entertainment and she adroitly ad libs when things, invariably, go wrong. Director Andrew Allen makes sure Andrews uses every inch of the small stage and she certainly works hard during the one hour performance. The famous scene with John Hurt gets its turn in the spotlight too, although the much-referred to tiny Fringe budget helps fuel the hilarity in this as in other famous scenes.
The feminist slant is an interesting addition although it feels a tad preachy at times. That said, maybe preaching is the way to garner more believers. One Woman Alien will appeal to fans of the original film, as a knowledge of it will definitely help people to relate to the action on stage. But it has wide appeal, audience members who haven't been exposed to the film will want to see it, and those that have already seen it will want to see it again – even if it's only to see Sigourney Weaver in her pants.