The Aliens

Nov. 14—Dec. 23 $39–$72
Studio Theatre
1501 14th St. NW, Washington, DC
Map
(202) 332-3300
It would be unfair to call The Aliens a stoner comedy, partly because two of its three characters favor harder vices but mainly because there aren’t many jokes. Set entirely in the alley behind a coffeeshop, the piece tracks a budding friendship between a shy, smart Jewish kid named Evan (Brian Miskell) and Jasper and KJ, two 30-something, bearded, Bukowski-worshipping dropouts (Peter O'Connor and Scot McKenzie), who frequently reassure one another of their mutual genius. Both O'Connor and Miskell are persuasive and winning but McKenzie is the show’s standout. His flinty, scruffy KJ is exactly the sort of underachieving but enigmatic adult whose approval an awkward teen would crave. McKenzie is the one who has to be compelling while lying motionless and mute—and while singing tuneless songs about calculus. McKenzie manages the neat trick of giving KJ an internal life, and that’s what ultimately makes The Aliens compelling. It’s no mean trick, given that the play’s sole plot point occurs offstage and is revealed to us with so little pomp that I kept expecting to playwright Annie Baker to come back and reverse it. (CK)

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