[My Love is Alien]
Reon Bell’s (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa) Concerning the UFO Sighting Outside Mt Roskill, Auckland returns to the stage after showing within the Auckland Pride Festival, and the Kia Mau Festival to kick off the 2023 Rangatahi season at Te Pou Theatre.
Immersed in sci-fi and kiwiana, it’s Auckland, however not as we all know it. A mix of a coming-of-age narrative and a Kafkaesque dreamscape, this solo present unfolds the journey of Dana, a younger man navigating the challenges of his workplace job, his id as a homosexual man, and the rising presence of UFOs in his Mt Roskill neighbourhood throughout the Eighties.
The narrative arc is gentle and eccentric, feeling extra a collage of sci-fi and 80’s popular culture references than following your customary plot construction. As Dana grapples along with his personal id and sexuality, it turns into more and more evident what may be manifesting these nightly visits from extraterrestrials. The paranoia of being watched and monitored escalates inside Dana till he should deliver what’s hidden to the floor and confront his fears — the present is fueled by emotional angst, with a soundtrack to go along with it.
What actually captivates is Bell’s flare for gesture and motion; as if conjuring bodily objects out of skinny air, he manoeuvres round a good and cramped workplace. Following this, we vicariously expertise the liberty and emotional launch of dancing within the privateness of your bed room as Bell grooves to Split Enz. Possibly essentially the most spectacular facet was Bell’s capacity to duplicate real intimacy and awkwardness with an invisible lover in a bootleg late evening rendezvous. Throughout the efficiency Bell’s presence exists past their very own physique. His capacity to form a scene via expression provides a definite and fascinating layer to their storytelling.
Setting the play in opposition to a sci-fi backdrop permits Dana to delve into his personal sense of alienation and isolation, whereas additionally drawing from a wealthy useful resource of exploration into humanity. Scenes from Doctor Who and Star Trek play on the projector behind Dana, together with the enduring ‘What a piece of work is Man’ scene between Picard and Q, melding Hamlet’s melancholy with Star Trek’s idealist imaginative and prescient of humanity — a visible embodiment of the twisting battle inside Dana himself.
Bell closes out the present by reciting Spock’s ‘two halves’ speech, a haunting monologue about reconciling two battling identities inside one’s self. It’s additionally a delicate reminder of the queer-coded nature of sci-fi, showcasing struggles which were altered, renamed, and straight-washed, but the underlying ache persists unchanged.
Though the environment is small and intimate, the manufacturing is spectacular. Transitions between evening and day, the workplace, and Dana’s bed room are prompt. The projector, just isn’t an afterthought, however utilised as a TV, evening membership, and dreamspace, and is a completely built-in facet of the present. However, the segments that enterprise into the surreal and absurd really feel considerably self-indulgent. With the present’s concise 45-minute period, there’s a chance for higher curation, permitting more room for narrative exploration and enhancing the general movement of the efficiency.
Concerning the UFO Sighting Outside Mt Roskill, Auckland is a intelligent composition of many theatrical parts. Its distinctive use of sci-fi serves as a lens to discover extremely sensible themes. I extremely suggest catching a exhibiting subsequent time Bell brings it to stage. If that is how the Rangatahi season at Te Pou kicks off, we’re left eagerly anticipating the inventive brilliance that awaits.
Concerning the UFO Sighting Outside Mt Roskill, Auckland, performed 7-11 November 2023 at Te Pou Theatre as a part of the Rangatahi season working seventh of November to the 2nd of December 2023.