Shakespeare is most likely one of the most well-known playwrights, poets and artists to ever walk the earth. His influence has been massive, and is often studied in all manners of art. So, what if you take the Shakespearian style of play writing and recreate a cult 1970s hit science fiction film for the stage? Well passionate Shakespeare fans, director Rob Lloyd and writer Keith Gow did exactly that with the space epic we all know and love, Aliens.
I’ve got to be honest with you, I’m not the most well versed with Shakespeare. Sure, I know all the usual lines, I’m sure you know the ones too, and it was great to see how they worked their way into this fantastic adaptation.
If you’re from the other side of the coin, and you’ve never heard of Aliens, I can forgive you for that. It’s not for everyone. But it too has had a massive influence on many. Created by the great James Cameron (you might know him), Aliens tells the story of Ellen Ripley, an officer who survived a brutal attack from savage alien creatures on planet LV-426. Fifty-seven years later, she awakes from her hypersleep to discover a human colony has settled on LV-426, and communications have suddenly gone silent. Ripley is convinced to return to LV-426 by company man Carter Burke, as an adviser to a military operation, but the threat is bigger than they expected and things go sideways quickly!
The Shakespearean style Aliens theatre show makes the transition to stage almost flawlessly. Gow has really captured the essence of the film, which has an over 2 hour run time, and perfectly condensed it down into a 60-minute performance. It is witty and funny, chock full of references to both Aliens and Shakespeare’s creations. And I think they absolutely smashed it!
The set is simple, a stage with some partitions and pieces that can move around, plus a big projected screen at the back that is used to set the scenes, a very smart use of the available tech, and kind of suits the futuristic aesthetic of the film. The same applies for the costumes, simple and paired back, but still tells you the character’s role within the show. The military uniforms are simple camo pants with black shirts and tactile vests, which work extremely well. Ripley dons a blue two-piece number with a bad ass leather coat. I really loved this look and it suited her so well.
On that note, Cassandra Hart absolutely embodies the role of Ellen Ripley! She is strong, funny, confident, brutally honest and a downright badass. She also has impeccable comedic timing and a certain kind of swagger that just clicked. Yet also showing a tender side with young girl Rebecca, aka Newt, a lone survivor left stranded on the planet.
Newt is played by Elysia Janssen, another talented young actress who does an amazing job with her role. She conveys her sadness and fear with ease, making you feel for her struggle and cheer her on, especially as she opens up to Ripley.
Without a doubt, the whole cast of Shakespeare Aliens are amazing, but a standout was the puppetry and the puppets of the aliens. The puppetry team did an amazing job with what I can only imagine were some awkward puppets to use, really mimicking scenes from the film to a tee. I loved their take on the scene with The Queen. It was outstanding and very creatively executed.
Shakespeare Aliens has everything an arts lover could want. It has classical theatre, sci-fi action, a quality story, and plenty of belly laughs for all. Even if you haven’t seen Aliens, or aren’t a huge fan of Shakespeare, I urge you to see this production. You will not be disappointed!
Shakespeare Aliens is at now on at The Goodwood Theatre and Studios at Adelaide Fringe 2023 from February 28th through to March 5th.
For more information and ticketing, visit:
Photography by Fabrizio Evans.