Monday, October 11, 2021

Alien on Stage - 2021 Nightstream Documentary Review

The Documentary: Alien on Stage

The Directors: Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer

The Story: Tired of performing pantomime productions for their annual charity show in Dorset, the amateur company sets their sights on a most ambitious adaptation of Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi horror classic Alien.

The Review:
I remember seeing news stories about the Alien on Stage phenomenon but never paid much attention so wasn't really aware of how incredible this story really is. Strange too because Alien is one of the most influential films of my childhood, yes childhood my dad let me watch it when I was just a wee lad, and it is really the foundation of my love of horror along with Poltergeist and maybe a few others I'm not remembering offhand. The people who pulled off this unlikely comedic (some intent, some not) production of the seminal sci-fi horror movie I'm sure had no idea what they're journey would ultimately entail.

The documentary starts off in the earliest stages of production as the idea is brought forward and roles are filled from director to stage manager. Oh, I haven't mentioned yet that the production was put on by a team pulled from Dorset bus drivers in the UK as part of their amateur theater program. Yes, the bus drivers in Dorset have a theater program. This isn't even the strangest thing about the story that unfolds over the course of the documentary as this rag tag group of unlikely thespians actually mange to create a bit of magic on stage and their journey goes all the way to the hallowed halls of London's historic West End theatre.

You know I'm not down with spoilers in my reviews so you should know that I didn't throw some major reveal at you with my previous statement. The West End theatre performance is an integral piece of why this story is so special and directors Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer know this all too well. They use the entire third act of the documentary to show just how the historic performance goes down from the team's arrival in London, the days leading up to opening night, and finally a nearly blow by blow accounting of how it all went down. With cameras in dressing rooms, back stage, on stage, and in the crowd, giving an intimate view of the magical night as it took place.

The real magic of this story comes from the amazing efforts of every person involved. They are just ordinary people with ordinary jobs and ordinary families all having ordinary problems who are then thrust into the most extraordinary of circumstances. For those who were there, those putting on the show and those watching it from the sold out auditorium, the night was one they will never forget and for viewers of the documentary, the filmmakers do an outstanding job of giving us as much of that experience as they can.

The Verdict:
Alien On Stage is the heartwarming underdog story about adapting a horror movie for the stage that you never knew you needed in your life and yet here we are. This might just be the feel good film of the year and one of the more entertaining documentaries I have watched in some time.

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at Nightstream 2021.

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1 comment :

  1. Thank you for your wonderful review.
    The journey has been very enjoyable.
    And to read reviews like yours.
    It is a privilege to be involved with the company of good friends.
    Brett the egineer. Alienonstage


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