Fringe review: How to Keep an Alien

When Sonya Kelly fell for an Aussie stage manager, the immigration bureau required documentary evidence. Wry, tender and imaginative, here is a stirring dossier of an accelerated romance


How To Keep An Alien

Project Cube


Why would anyone document a love affair, from earliest blush and fragile chance, and turn it over for official inspection? Sonya Kelly’s exquisite new monologue for Rough Magic, about her romance with an Aussie stage manager on the cusp of deportation, recognises the absurdity. Pleasingly, her own experience provides a surprisingly fresh take on an age-old story, and, to warm the hearts of the Garda National Immigration Bureau, Kelly compiles a dossier on her relationship, from fling to thing.

Sharing the stage with Justin Murphy, the production’s engagingly multi-faceted stage manager, Kelly pursues a charming combination of wry humour and imaginative device. Conceived with director Gina Moxley, it turns a solo show into a winning partnership, a neat reflection of the story. Kelly smuggles tenderness into throwaway wit, like her love letter written on a sandwich bag, but bureaucracy hastens them through hesitation and frustration towards “gestures of permanence”.

The show is something similar, as gossamer and memorable as Kelly’s comic lines, and more stirring for its modesty. “The people are beautiful,” Kelly is told about Ireland, and as her romance swells to involve a polyphony of supportive voices, that point is gloriously proven.

Ends Sep 13