by Lynn on January 17, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Streetcar Crow’s Nest, Carlaw and Dundas, Toronto, Ont.

Written and performed by Damien Atkins

Co-directed by Chris Abraham and Christian Barry

Design consultant, Julie Fox

Lighting designed by Kimberley Purtell

Sound by Thomas Ryder Payne in association with Dylan Green, Peter Balov and Christian Barry

Engaging, inquisitive and questioning. Damien Atkins, a gifted actor and playwright, has questions of ‘what’s out there’ and he’s written a play to get us involved too.

Do you believe in extra-terrestrial life? Is there such a thing as an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO), those strange things in the sky, possibly from another galaxy? Have you seen one? Have you or do you know anyone who has been abducted by a UFO? Do you believe we are alone in the universe or is there other life out there?

The title of Damien Atkins’ new play, We Are Not Alone, tells you where he stands. It wasn’t an easy journey. Damien Atkins is a gifted, thoughtful actor. All that is evident in his one person show. He tells us that while he wondered if there was other life out there, he thought he should query people he knew about their ideas of extra-terrestrial life first to see if he was on the right track. The answers varied of course but what was clear in Damien’s mind was that the question needed more research, rigor and investigation. He talks about the military pilot who saw UFO’s as he was flying his plane. He ‘opened’ the window of his plane to get a better look. Atkins impishly illuminates that bit—that the sighting was so long ago the pilot could actually open the cockpit window to get a better look. Atkins references other respected scientists, not the least of whom is Stephen Hawking in his quest for the truth.

After several references to ‘other’ life out there from respected sources, Atkins ventures into the weird world of conferences that talk about the very question. As Christian Barry, a co-director on the show writes in his programme note: “This search for the truth took us far beyond the theatre walls: into the Arizona desert, walking and talking with abductees, psychics and human-alien hybrids. Does that sound strange? Crazy? Unbelievable? Welcome to the theatre. We look forward to sharing our story with you, and introducing you to the extraordinary people we met.”

One of the many joys of this fascinating play is that Atkins and his co-directors Chris Abraham and Christian Barry take this very seriously and never talk down to or trivialize the people they met, even ones who believe they are ‘human-alien hybrids’ (people who believe they are the result of a pairing with an alien). And because Atkins and company treat everything seriously, perhaps even those in the audience who might question if we are alone or not might waver and at least think other life might be possible.

Damien Atkins is such a graceful, engaging actor he gently shares his uncertainty of the answers to his questions and his enthusiasm as he gets deeper into his research. He meets many people on the way and introduces us to each of them with their own voices and body language. Each character is distinct and simply expressed. A woman stands and her body language is demure and one hand holds the opposite arm just below the elbow, her voice is soft; another man has a deep voice and a bluster; others seem simple but happy. Atkins’ transitions from character to character is seamless and clear.

This is wonderful work. I for one have been gently lead by Atkins and his smart play to believe the title, We Are Not Alone.

Crow’s Theatre and the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts in partnership with 2B Theatre Company present:

Opened: Jan. 11, 2019.

Closes: Jan 26, 2019.

Running Time: 90 minutes.

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.