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Clowning around

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The aliens in Aliens with Extraordinary Skills aren’t extraterrestrials; they’re two illegal immigrants from the former USSR constituents of Moldova and Russia trying to make it in the good ol’ U.S. of A. And that’s about the most interesting thing in this play by Saviana Stanescu, directed by Rhonda Clark.

Professional clowns Nadia (Gwendolyn Evans) and Borat (John Steele) are admitted to this country on what turns out to be bogus “clown visas.” Menaced by two U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agents, they make their way to New York City, where they meet Lupita (Paula Dawson), an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who
works in the “entertainment industry,” and Bob (Thomas MacDonald), an
unemployed musician.

Aliens isn’t much of a play, but it introduces Evans and Dawson, who hopefully will be onstage more. Evans plays Nadia with an appealing, wideeyed wonder and the sweetest disposition this side of Pollyanna. She makes the audience pull for Nadia and hope that somehow, someway, she gets her green card.

Lupita, her worldly wise counterpart, is sassy, sexy and rents to Nadia a sofa and a few feet of floor space in her apartment for $750 a month. This being New York, Lupe considers that a bargain. And in her professional capacity, Lupe renders a lap dance for Borat that, well, let’s just say gives him his money’s worth.

Aliens is set in the present, an unwelcome time for illegal
immigrants in this country. Clark has cast two female actors (Sidney
Greathouse and Angela Curtis) as the INS agents, an odd decision
affecting their characters’ impact.

Both
appear mainly in Nadia’s vivid imagination as she succumbs to the
horrors of being an illegal immigrant. If the agents were played by
tough-guy males who looked genuinely threatening, they would be more
credible and much more funny in the scenes where they’re employed for
comic relief.

For one
scene early in Act 2, the play changes to a darker tone. Evans acts it
with great sensitivity, but the scene is way out of character with the
rest of the work.

It’s hard to say for sure, but Aliens seems like a comedy. It has clowns; a colorful, cartoon-like set; and comedic situations. What it lacks is humor.

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