Patient: The Aliens
Legal Guardians: Playwright Annie Baker, Producer Alexandra Shields, Director Gus Schlanbusch
Surname: Aegis Theatre Company
Address: 1579 N Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL
Symptoms: second hand smoke, psychedelics, guitars
This diagnosis agonized me. I did and didn’t enjoy Ms. Baker’s script. The entire story felt like a subplot. That was the plot. The marginalized lost boys smoked cigarettes, weedijuana, psychedelics, and plucked the guitar at the back of a restaurant. It’s plain; I get it; I didn’t like it. I had friends like these so I’m not alien (hah) to the genre. It reminded me of the cinema Stand By Me with its small town American boys just trying to grow up.
The indulgent pauses in the intro demanded rather than invited a tone of authenticity. This quickly put me on guard. Peter Giessl started the show with America’s favorite bad boy pastime: cigarette brooding. Oh, hell yea—more… pausing! Griffin Johnston was a perfect Evan. I like the way he, like, the calls… he, um. I liked the calls he made with his… um. It was like—the way he… Anyway… at least there’s Evan. Miles Potter kept kindling the audience with KJ’s humor, but Ms. Baker’s script continued to bog down action with a swamp of thought speculation from the characters. I imagine she’d argue that the pauses are for the realism but it’s already there, Miss. It was present the first three times.
I yearned for a more dramatic back ally plot in Nowhere town. The writing was too offhand. Again, this was the content of the genre! Is it I who is simply not immersing themselves in the narrative? No, I held on to my impression: I wasn’t. I didn’t make the essential bond with the characters. One more act could have done it. When the climax’s sickle came swinging for the harvest I wasn’t moved.
The story brought drama to the table, but if a few undulations of emotion defined a healthy patient, then I wouldn’t be in the business of curing the weak in spirit because none could be defined as such. I’ll assign four stars for the Aegis Theater company actors and three for Baker. It was… alright.