I have a confession. I’ve never seen the film “Alien.”
So while preparing to watch “Alien on Stage,” a documentary about a stage production of the movie, I wasn’t sure if I’d be completely lost or able to immerse myself in it as much as someone who has.
Turns out, that was a ridiculous worry because “Alien on Stage” is spectacularly entertaining and the perfect introduction to understanding the joy and excitement the 1979 film brings people.
The 83-minute doc, which had its international premiere at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, follows a group of bus drivers from Dorset, England, whose amateur theatre group, the Paranoid Dramatics, puts on a serious stage production of “Alien,” which ends up not doing so well, but by a twist of fate lands them in London’s West End performing to a sold-out crowd.
The film’s directors Danielle Kummer and Lucy Harvey, affectionately capture the performers as they endeavor through nerves preparing for the big performance, while the stress on the shoulders of the production’s director, a bus driver named Dave, is palpable and will have viewers on the edge of their seats holding their breath on his behalf.
Some of the film’s most endearing moments come from seeing all of the performers interacting with each other. While some of them are literally family members, all of them seem like a big family when they’re with one another and it’s heartwarming to see that supportive bond grow even more as they work towards their end-goal of putting on a great show.
One of the most fascinating aspects of “Alien on Stage” is seeing how the props and special effects come together. Pete, a night shift supervisor for the bus company, is so creative and does a magnificent job innovating the various alien components. He, along with set builder Ray, are very skillful and their hard work helps bring the production to life making it an enchanting experience for those in the stage audience, as well as those watching the documentary.
Fun fact, one of the executive producers of “Alien on Stage” is none other than Adam F. Goldberg, creator of the American sitcom “The Goldbergs.” If you’ve ever seen that show you’ll recall Adam’s love of sci-fi and understand just how well-suited his involvement in the film is. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more fitting match.
In the final half of “Alien on Stage,” viewers are treated to a front row seat to the performance of a lifetime and all of the backstage activities that go along with it. It’s such a fun viewing experience. You’ll be charmed by the mayhem and the happiness that unfolds and find yourself rooting for the creative underdogs and the little theatre groups everywhere that perform with giant hearts.
You might even be inspired to finally see “Alien” for the first time too.
See “Alien on Stage” streaming at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival from October 1st-31st. For more information on how to stream the film, visit: mdff.org.au.