DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Alien on Stage

A group of bus drivers from Dorset (yes, you read that right) ditch Christmas panto in favour of Ridley Scott's Alien, with chestburster et al - British documentary premiered at SXSW

This stage adaptation of the Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) premiered at the Allendale Community Centre in Rimborne, Dorset in 2013. It was highly entertaining. The play became such a news story that it ended up playing in the West End in London for one night. The amateur theatre group was made up of local bus drivers who had previously done mainly an annual Christmas panto. And then local family involved with the theatre group decided to stage Alien

This documentary is a straightforward account of a community theatre group coming together against the odds to pull it off. At times it feels like a real-life version of Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest, 1997), a mockumentary about the amateur cast of a small American town musical production. Director Dave Mitchell takes on the complex challenge, which turned out to be a good choice—after all, Alien takes place mainly on a single set (the spaceship). The director’s son Luc did the script adaptation, his wife played Ripley, granddad was in charge of the sets. They tried to do the props and special effects as well as they could, including the chestburster.

The result is a charming documentary, a real-crowd pleaser that is also funny. It shows that – even with very limited funds and people who might be more interested in their smoke break than acting – you can inspire others and accomplish a lot. And you might even end up on the West End! There are lots of hilarious moments throughout, and no one is really quite right for the parts, which adds to the fun. Also under consideration were Quention Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) and Kill Bill (2003)….

The crew comes up with a lot of creative solutions, and the way they make the Alien is very inventive. You see the triumphs and pitfalls of the whole production: they only did it a couple of times, and it’s not the most professional show even on its sold-out London night. The acting is really stilted, but they are having a good time, so they take the audience with them. In fact, the stage crew at the Leicester Square Theatre say it was their all-time favourite production.

The struggles and the solutions to special effects on a budget are both impressive and hilarious. A few years after this version there was a technically much more impressive attempt by a high school theatre group in New Jersey, no doubt inspired by the Dorset production.

It’s an entertaining watch, and for a festival that didn’t have much in the way of great films, Alien on Stage was a stand-out at SXSW. Audiences will definitely get a kick out of it when it’s released.

By Ian Schultz - 29-03-2021

Ian Schultz is a film writer based in Leeds, where he runs Psychotronic Cinema. He has been writing about films for about eight years, with articles and reviews appearing in Little White Lies and Live...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More


Ridley Scott

Victor Fraga - 18-02-2019

Ridley Scott's classic is one of the most subversive films ever made for more reasons than one, and it's getting a 4k restoration just in time for its 40th anniversary - in cinemas Friday, March 1st [Read More...]

Memory: The Origins Of Alien

Alexandre O. Philippe

Jeremy Clarke - 10-07-2019

A detailed examination of the ideas and personalities behind Dan O'Bannon, H.R.Giger and Ridley Scott's classic 1979 SF shocker Alien is in cinemas and VoD [Read More...]

Alien: Covenant

Ridley Scott

Jeremy Clarke - 09-05-2017

The latest Alien franchise entry is an effective horror sci-fi, teeming with shocks, scares and twists, but it lacks the mythological depth of 'Prometheus' and the twisted sexual connotations of 'Alien' - now also available on Disney [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *