The Aliens by Annie Baker at Theatre Network this past week. It's a very introspective piece with silences and pauses but don't let that scare you off. Director Taylor Chadwick has made sure that the pauses are present and engaging, not simply waiting for the next thing to happen. The action is meticulous and purpose driven, pulling us in. It focuses on KJ (Chris Cook) and Jasper (Evan Hall), two 30 something misfits who hang out in an alley behind a coffee shop. Enter Evan (played with wide-eyed wonder and a delightful awkwardness by Michael Vetsch), a 17 year old coffee shop worker who encounters them and forms a connection with them, entranced by their seeming wisdom and coolness as compared to his relative inexperience. Although KJ and Jasper are failures by most modern standards, they do not see themselves that way and neither does Evan. Their purposeless lives have purpose if only to them. They are here in this alley for a reason even if that reason is just to hang out together in silence. They see themselves as geniuses even if the rest of the world does not. The chemistry an interaction between Hall and Cook is tight. They understand these guys and they make them work by making them human, not stereotypes. It's a deft, unusual portrait of the less than ordinary, which points us to think more about those in our world who do not stand out, who seem to exist on the margins. We get to see them as Evan does - as inspirational, as heroes, as artists and as geniuses.
The Aliens runs to October 22nd at the Roxy on Gateway.
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