by Patrick Bromley
There's a great documentary to be made from the story of a group of working class bus drivers who band together to produce the first-ever live stage production of Ridley Scott's Alien. I'm not sure Alien On Stage is it.
At least, I think these things are present in Alien On Stage. At times, it's the charming documentary I'm describing. At others, it feels cobbled together from available footage, much of which seems to have been taken as the cast gets ready on the day of the production; everything prior to that feels rushed, and then too much time is spent showing them unload sets from trucks and standing around in dressing rooms without much of a story being told. This is a case of me reacting to the movie I wish I was seeing both for better and for worse, charmed by the film I wish it was and frustrated by the film that it isn't. We don't really get to know the participants, nor what this material and opportunity means to them. Good documentaries tell a larger human story inside the story being told, but Alien On Stage is all surfaces, never digging for deeper understanding or resonance. Mounting a stage production of Alien winds up being an achievement, but there's little else on display here.