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How to Keep an Alien

From 15 critic and 24 member reviews
Members say: Funny, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Intelligent

About the show

Performer/playwright Sonya Kelly presents an autobiographical comedy about falling in love and having to prove it to the government. Part of Origin’s 1st Irish Festival. More…

Irish Sonya and Australian Kate fall in love...but then they need to persuade the Department of Immigration that they have the right to live together in Ireland. Join the couple on a madcap odyssey from the stony townlands of Ireland to the leafy depths of the Queensland bush. 

Front Row Center

"Kelly tells us the tale with complete unselfconsciousness, throwing herself completely both physically and emotionally into each new situation, acting each part and person perfectly...Hardly a fairy tale, Kelly has to confront her fears and ambivalences, figure out what she wants from her life and whether or not she has the guts to go for it. And she keeps us laughing and rooting for her the entire time. A love story for the ages. A writer and a performer to watch. Don’t miss it." Full Review

Plays to See

"Witty, smartly written and saturated with a love for language, there are moments of true literary poetry among the smart self-deprecating humor. Well-structured, well-paced and with well-delivered jokes, Kelly clearly has a background in comedy. She delivers her story with genuine charm, physical comedy and true theatre geekiness...Director Gina Moxley did a fantastic job of keeping our attention 100% engaged." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

“It’s a familiar conundrum, and a reliable source of rom-com fodder, which Kelly invests with wit and originality in her show…Kelly’s turns of phrase and her self-deprecating style make this a consistently hilarious performance, which also displays considerable emotional depth while sending up the boisterous conventions of stand-up comedy…'Alien' attests the transformation of Irish society, which has gone from quasi-theocracy to legalizing marriage equality by popular vote.” Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Directed by Gina Moxley, Kelly’s performance is funny to its core. The audience was kept in stitches as Kelly colors each moment of her bureaucratically challenged romance with hilarious insights into the process of falling in love...Despite the unending success of the show’s comedy, some of its emotional moments could have been more developed...Performed with comedic aplomb and wry freshness, 'How to Keep an Alien' makes for truly fantastic theater." Full Review

Irish Central

"A sweetly funny new play…Onstage Kelly trades barbs, jokes and brilliantly executed vignettes from the real journey that loving an alien has led her through with actor and stage manager Paul Curley…Nothing is funnier than life or death anxiety, and Kelly mines a rich seam with this material. Life, she reminds us, is not a movie; it’s an underestimated gas bill. Do not miss this show." Full Review

Village Voice

"A sweet, charmingly spun tale of modern love and state bureaucracy…The setup blends elements of traditional stand-up comedy and queer solo performance…With just some desks and bookcases for scenery, the production uses sound effects to create a vibrant, zany mood. But there are more reflective moments, too…Onstage, Kelly cuts an affably geeky figure, deftly balancing Irish wit with broad physical comedy and moments of touching sentiment." Full Review

The New York Times

"Ms. Kelly enhances her tale with the help of a spirited stage manager, Paul Curley, and a limitless supply of one-liners, many of them delicious...Her comic style varies nicely from straight-faced to vivacious, from deadpan to a pan that is very much alive, especially her irresistible, maniacal grin...Ultimately, the show doesn't offer much drama or conflict...Ms. Kelly’s greatest trial is a camping trip with her girlfriend’s family." Full Review

Edge New York

“This yarn about a same-sex couple navigating the bureaucratic labyrinth of immigration unravels effortlessly…Sometimes you have to laugh. But it's the abnegation of real human suffering that makes it difficult to take the trip. Not only does the piece lack a context of political controversy of LGBTQ lives in a priest-riddled country, the humdrum of everyday living is conveniently sidestepped. The potentially crippling financial costs of applying for papers are raised early but then dropped.” Full Review

The Outmost

for a previous production "It’s serious stuff, but Sonya keeps the audience in stitches...For the most part the pace of the show rarely lags...After all the comedy and high-octane chatter it’s a beautiful and moving reminder of the real relationship at the heart of this wonderful show. If you like your comedy peppered with romance and underlined with socio-politics, make sure you check out 'How to Keep an Alien.' It’s truly out of this world." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production "The fact that Sonya and Kate had to prove their relationship lends this onstage documentation of their love an appropriateness that is both revealing and poignant. There is no such thing as too much information as far as the immigration service is concerned, and that’s reflected in the onstage honesty and freshness. This is a very, very funny show full of wry, laugh-out-loud moments...Not all of it works. But this little show is a treat, and one to fall in love with." Full Review

Irish Times

for a previous production "Kelly pursues a charming combination of wry humour and imaginative device...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." Full Review

The London Evening Standard

for a previous production "She recounts her battle to make Kate 'legal' with dry wit and invention, and interweaves her story with that of Kate’s great-great-grandmother, who emigrated from Ireland to Australia...The pace occasionally dips, but the play talks genuinely about the power of love to overcome even the most immovable of obstacles, and is as heartwarming as it is funny." Full Review

Edinburgh Spotlight

for a previous production "A quirky, offbeat but utterly heart-warming show, 'How to Keep an Alien' looks at the challenges involved in falling in love with someone from another country....There is much to laugh at, partly through the crazy, fanciful script...Well-executed direction from Gina Moxley ensures the piece does not flag, but instead zips along so that the show is concluding before you realize it...A life-affirming, uplifting and well-crafted piece." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

for a previous production "This autobiographical story follows the eight-month paper-trail of devotion that Kelly has to collate to prove their love to the government...The success of this play relies heavily on Kelly's charm as a performer but ultimately it's her sheer strength of will that wins you over. Ostensibly a one-woman show, Kelly is accompanied by her stage manager, who offers an occasional response and provides a musical interlude of utterly random loveliness." Full Review

Irish Examiner

for a previous production "Actor and writer, Sonya Kelly, reveals a keen sense of the comedic in her touching, funny autobiographical show...Kelly and stage manager, Justin Murphy, are the only performers in this highly-entertaining show...When Kelly goes to Australia to meet her girlfriend’s family, she is overwhelmed by Kate’s numerous relatives and seeks solace out in the bush where she gets lost...It’s the only jarring note in this otherwise delightful play." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Masterful, Must see

See it if You want to experience a solid And worthy Broadway play. Fantastic must see. Great acting and clever staging. A story still relevant today.

Don't see it if You enjoy musicals more than a compelling drama.

Great acting, Great writing, Refreshing, Entertaining, Funny

See it if you want to laugh, cry and split your gloves clapping! And not spend too much time.

Don't see it if you're a robot.

Entertaining, Clever, Funny, Quirky, Original

See it if you like a one woman show w/ a stage manager also in the show. If you like a good laugh at crazy but true stories /Irish accent/immigration

Don't see it if you dont like 1 woman shows/uncomfortable w/ lesbian stories. If you want a traditional stage play. If you have a closed mind to fresh ideas

Entertaining, Great acting, Hilarious, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if absolutely hilarious, kept the whole audience laughing throughout

Don't see it if you're not big on one-woman shows (even though she shares the stage with her stage manager, it's focused on her)

Funny, Quirky, Romantic, Delightful, Warm

See it if You would enjoy a humorous, touching autobiographical tale that is part theater, part standup comedy.

Don't see it if You want to see something darker or more dramatic. You prefer a larger ensemble than 1 lead and 1 supporting role.

Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Funny, Intelligent

See it if Like the Irish and/or love witty storytelling.

Don't see it if Are hard hearted.

Charming, Sweet, Delightful, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you like smart quirky shows that make you think about some ideas from some different points of view.

Don't see it if you don't like one person monologue plays, that's basically what this is.

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Relevant

See it if an entertaining solo performance about bringing a new love interest into Ireland. Funny, well written, great performance

Don't see it if don't like solo peformances.

Delightful, Enchanting, Charming, Funny

See it if you enjoy a complicated, funny, real love story. Essentially a one-woman show, the play creatively navigates various different perspectives.

Don't see it if You struggle with one-actor (or effectively one-actor) shows, or if you cannot get past how much the writer/actress resembles Rachel Dratch.

Delightful, Absorbing, Great writing, Intelligent, Funny

See it if you enjoy whimsically told tales of personal experiences.

Don't see it if you prefer stories with lots of action, big casts and hugely dramatic conflict. This show is quieter and more charming than those.

Clever, Funny, Original

See it if you like a clever person talking about a funny situation.

Don't see it if you have problems with monologue shows.

Clever, Delightful, Intelligent, Resonant, Relevant

See it if You want to see fresh themes in Irish theater, enjoy one actor shows done well,

Don't see it if You work for immigration enforcement

Clever, Entertaining, Funny

See it if Even if you don't like one person shows. This is Irish storytelling/humor at its best. A little multimedia also mixes things up a bit.

Don't see it if You're looking for a show about UFOs.

Funny, Entertaining, Hilarious, Original, Intelligent

See it if funny look at the trials and tribulations of obtaining a long term residency visa in Ireland made relevant by a heartwarming love story.

Don't see it if you lack sense of humor.

Clever, Funny, Edgy, Entertaining, Quirky

See it if You enjoy a well delivered, funny story about one woman's personal experience.

Don't see it if You are a grouch.

Fluffy, Enchanting, Indulgent

See it if like light, airy 'meet cute' girl meets girl and falls in love stories...sweetly told.

Don't see it if you like more depth and complexity to your stories.

Clever, Delightful, Sweet, Funny, Uplifting

See it if for a heart-warming, laugh-filled take on romance. Kelly is a charmer w/ the gift of the gab. You'll root for her as if she was your sister.

Don't see it if you want big things from theater. This is a small, intimate piece in a barebones setting. I'd see this again, tho, instead of The Encounter.

Fluffy, Indulgent, Overrated, Ambitious, Pleasant

See it if You're looking for a pleasant one person show by a warmly engaging performerr

Don't see it if If you value more clever and engaging fair than your average undemanding middle class theater goer.

Love story but not enthralling

See it if funny interjections want to know how to prove love for a non-believing govt official

Don't see it if a mostly one woman show vibrant actor who cannot keep one immersed at all times

Great acting, Ambitious, Enchanting

See it if this is a great show about what its like to be an immigrant. touching and funny...

Don't see it if you don't like one woman show stories about personal experiences

Clever, Enchanting, Delightful

See it if I couldn't find a show I've seen

Don't see it if You actually read this review

During previews
Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy a cleverly presented story about real life dilemmas; anything Irish; a charming and energetic presenter.

Don't see it if you can't understand a very slight Irish accent; you are anti-gay; you are anti-Irish; you dislike one-person shows

During previews
Hilarious, Delightful, Original, Clever, Touching

See it if you want to see how theater can transform a potentially dreary subject (immigration hassles) into something that's both funny and touching.

Don't see it if you have a job title that ends in "-ographer". (You'll get it when you see the show.)

During previews
Clever, Funny, Quirky, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if You enjoy a clever, funny, and well written show. Sonja Kelly's accents and comedic timing are both excellent. Definitely a gem of a play.

Don't see it if You think plays from Ireland can be sad and dreary.

Cast & Creatives (8)