Irish Rom-Com Makes Hilarious New York Debut

Irish Rom-Com Makes Hilarious New York Debut

Paul Curley and Sonya Kelly (©Ger Holland)

As Sonya Kelly enthusiastically shares how her “fling with an alien” became “a thing with an alien,” the audience falls more and more in love—both with this woman and love itself.

Making its New York debut, “How to Keep an Alien” tells the true story of when Sonya (an Irish writer and actor), first met Kate (a stage manager from Queensland, Australia) while they were both working on a Russian play in an Irish castle. Kate’s work visa was soon running out and the government would prohibit the two from being together because Kate needed to leave the country.

The couple’s fierce determination to ensure that love endures the complicated de facto visa process makes for a wildly hilarious yet emotionally resonant show, written and performed by Kelly. With the help of Paul Curley—the on-stage stage manager who covers lighting cues, sound effects and additional characters as needed—Kelly guides the audience through her relationship with Kate and all of the hoops they had to jump through just to be together. Letters, Skype, paperwork, plane tickets and more—what they do for love is no more extraordinary than the countless couples who face the same challenges every day, but that’s what makes this show so special. Love is a universal unifier and, whether you are in a relationship or not, you cheer for Sonya and Kate to be together, legally, in Ireland.

I laughed loudly and often during “How to Keep an Alien.” Kelly is a gifted storyteller and the uninhibited way she uses her entire body to spin her yarn is a comedic gift she graciously bestows on rest of us. With her owlish glasses, bright red pants and penchant for grand gestures (both physical and metaphorical), Kelly exudes a youthful glee from the love that is bursting out from every seam.

“How to Keep an Alien” is one of the more hope-filled shows I’ve seen in a long time. Kelly’s endearingly stubborn proactive-ness and ultimate realization that there must be compromise within a relationship (even though the relationship itself must not be compromised) allows the audience to witness that though love is messy—and sometimes crazy-complicated—it is also worth fighting any red tape.

Presented as part of Origin’s 1st Irish 2016, New York’s annual festival of Irish theater, “How to Keep an Alien” is being performed at the Irish Arts Center (553 W. 51st St.) through October 1. This charming rom-com is a must-see for anyone who loves love. Added bonus—Kelly’s version of “Like a Virgin” is worth the price of admission alone. Get your tickets here.

Sonya Kelly and Paul Curley in "How to Keep an Alien" (©Ger Holland)

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