Heather-Rose Andrews skilfully acts out this minimalist stage version of cult classic Alien. In the heady depths of the Grassmarket, this parody of a Hollywood blockbuster is the backdrop for Andrews to explore some key questions we all have about the original. There is a further layer to the production, which is the analysis from a feminist perspective which is so very relevant in the context of 2018.
A contemplative introspection into a legendary narrative
Magic eggs, neon slime and milky vomit are just some of the props employed by Andrews, as she plays seven key characters from the first of the Alien movies. Props, accents and body language all serve to distinguish one character from another, as Andrews revisits one iconic scene after another. There is an element of slapstick comedy to the performance, with pantomimic personas a-plenty which Andrews uses to break the metaphorical fourth wall. Utilising an audience member to play John Hurt and the face hugger is an interesting element to this one woman show, and the scene in which Andrews engages in a physical fight from the perspective of both characters is well acted. Andrews also slips character to communicate with us in other ways throughout the performance, like asking us to consider how often we see ourselves on screen in a way that represents us. She regales us with stores of Fred and Ginger, which were particular favourites of hers growing up – and thus we get an insight into the inner workings of Andrews and why she has decided to bring us this discerning feminist sci-fi nugget.
Andrews notes to the audience that her original intention wasn’t to create a feminist overview, however she has managed to do just that in her very own brash and courageous style. Bechdel test approved, Andrews drags Alien into the twenty first century as she considers how dismissive the men in the film are to Sigourney Weaver’s character. Abounding with coffee and cigarettes, this contemplative introspection into a legendary narrative is refreshing, and Andrews inhabits the various personas with ease.
At times, the tomfoolery and pantomime quality of the production detracted from its effect, which is the only flaw of the performance. However there was so much going on, and so many themes to explore, that refining this quality would substantially improve the delivery of the art. Even so, this is still an hour of original perspective and delivery of a film favourite.