Carpenter Square Theatre is currently presenting “Aliens with Extraordinary Skills”, a delightful romantic comedy by Saviana Stanescu. The ‘sweet young thing’ of the show is an immigrant from the former Soviet Union who has entered the United States on a work visa as a professional clown. Nadia, and her fellow performer, Borat, face the perils of ‘making it’ in New York City with the threat of deportation looming over their heads.
Director Rhonda Clark uses a superb cast, led by Gwendolyn Evans. Evans is an extremely talented actress and her portrayal of the confused and desperate Nadia, searching for her place in life as well as the U.S.A. is exactly right. The essence of comedy is tragedy and Evans has the perfect balance and timing that makes the audience love her.
Fellow clown, Borat, faces his own challenges as the under-the-radar cab driver man visitors and residents routinely encounter. John Steele plays the part of the slightly less desperate and fatalistic cabbie quite nicely.
Lupita is the independent, salt of the earth exotic dancer who becomes Nadia’s landlady and the object of Borat’s affections. Paula Dawson gives a performance that is unpretentious and utterly uninhibited. The contrast in personality coupled with the close friendship that develops between Lupita and Nadia gives the play a nice foundation and Dawson plays beautifully opposite Evans.
Thomas MacDonald is Bob, the young man who, having ingratiated himself with Lupita finds himself falling in love with Nadia. His transitions are believable and his characterization is a wonderful combination of barely endurable and endearing.
Nadia is haunted throughout the show by the fear that immigration officials will catch up to her and she will be unceremoniously deported. She frequently imagines two INS agents’ threatening her and the audience is treated to the visualization of these cruel officials during the scene’s which take place in Nadia’s mind. The two INS agents are played by Sidney Greathouse and Angela Curtis. These ladies give us the long and the short of the uncaring bureaucrat enamored by their own power. Both actors have great comic timing and have also fully mastered the art of ‘cackling’ in the time honored manner of our favorite witch. It is a pleasure to see these two Oklahoma City troupers on stage together.
With Evans, Dawson, Steele and MacDonald, Clark uses a cast of relative new-comers to the Oklahoma City metropolitan area making their Carpenter Square Theatre debut. Hopefully we will see them frequently on many stages as well as returns to Carpenter Square in the future. Gwendolyn Evans will soon be seen in “Legally Blonde” the upcoming production at the Pollard Theatre.
“Aliens with Extraordinary Skills” is a production where Clark reveals her directorial expertise not only in her handling of a great cast but in her fine use of technical ability. Her costumes are perfect and along with Nick Backes, she creates a beautiful set. Lighting Designer Scott Hynes accents the mood beautifully.
Carpenter Square’s new location at 800 West Main boasts a nice bar open before the curtain and during intermission. The CST Lobby Gallery features George Oswalt, an excellent artistic choice for the production.
“Aliens with Extraordinary Skills” plays weekends through March 17, 2012 with an 8pm curtain. Carpenter Square Theatre is located conveniently at 800 W. Main and the box office can and should be contacted at 405-232-6500. Also visit online at www.carpentersquare.com.