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Theatre Review: How to Keep an Alien ***

Michael Cox reviews 'a joy to watch from start to finish'.

With the current situation at the Channel Tunnel, let alone the European Union borders, it is sometimes difficult to see a human reflection when it comes to the topic of immigration. With blinkers strapped on due to a sensationalised media and a government currying favour with a braying populace, it is also easy to forget that ‘the others’ can come from anywhere in the world. Including Australia.

How to Keep an Alien is a touching piece of theatrical autobiography. Performed by Sonya Kelly, who also wrote the piece, the play begins with Kelly entering into a love affair with Kate, an stage manager from Australia who’s living in Ireland but has been told by the government that she must leave as her visa is about to expire. When the parting comes, both women find that they’ve fallen hard for each other but that government bureaucracy is not on their side for staying together.

Chronicling the red tape and hurdles they must go through just for the legal right to be together, Kelly paints a portrait of a system that is slow and indifferent. That she manages to do this while injecting much energy and good humour throughout makes the journey entertaining, giving just a few moments for the audience to ponder the unfairness of the system the couple are up against.

Also adding to the production is Justin Murphy, who acts both as stage manager and de facto ensemble member. He supports Kelly, technically and performance-wise, while having a few key moments that allow him to shine.

Together, both Kelly and Murphy have created a sincere look at immigration that makes one look at the issue in a new, personal light. A joy to watch from start to finish, it is a production that takes the audience on a rewarding journey that is thoughtful yet peppered with enough humour to make it an enjoyable experience.

How to Keep an Alien is at the Traverse until August 30, 2015. Check website for dates and times.

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