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Tonya Beckman in Solas Nua's production of How to Keep an Alien. Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

How far would you go to be with the one that you love? Sonya Kelly's autobiographical How to Keep an Alien, now being presented by Solas Nua, explores this question with warmth, humor, and a tour-de-force performance from DC acting goddess Tonya Beckman. This production marks the first time Kelly has not performed in the show herself.

Sonya (Tonya Beckman) is an Irish actress who meets an Australian performer named Kate in a play they are both performing in Ireland. It was love at first sight. Kate, however, is on a work visa which expires the day after the show closes. Luckily, Kate eventually books a tour in the United Kingdom that will at least bring her geographically closer to Sonya for awhile. It is clear that the two are attracted to one another and thus begins the process of Sonya trying to figure out a way for Kate to legally remain in Ireland once her current visa expires.

What follows is a long, bureaucratic process filled with red tape to obtain what is known as a de facto visa in which you have to prove to the Department of Immigration that there is a good reason to remain in the country with an opportunity to eventually become a citizen. The catch is the list of requirements is longer than War and Peace. The list includes the requirement for letters from family and friends and an array of evidence that a relationship exists. An awkward family gathering in Australia is just part of the situations Sonya has to tackle - all while pondering whether it is all worth it.

Kelly's script is full of laughs to be sure, but it also shows her true passion about the need to stay connected to the ones you love. The script is a perfect balance and its full potential is realized in this production under the fine direction of Tom Story.

Nick Fruit and Tonya Beckman in Solas Nua's production of How to Keep an Alien. Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

Of course, the show would not be successful without a strong female performer. Tonya Beckman once again proves that she is one of the area's best actresses. Her emotional performance ranges the gamut from comedy in the scene where Sonya tries her hand at standup, to high drama as Sonya tries to keep her love near. Beckman's performance is one that should and needs to be seen.

Supporting Beckman in grand form is Nick Fruit playing a variety of characters ranging from Sonya's stage manager to a very pretentious choreographer.

Brigid Kelly Burge's office set clutters the back wall of the stage with lots of office files and documents and provides the perfect setting for this journey through the twists and turns of government bureaucracy. It also includes many office lamps that lighting designer Marianne Meadows uses to her advantage as flashing lights at various times throughout the show. Her disco effects look snazzy as well.

How to Keep an Alien at Solas Nua is one of those shows that if done wrong might be a tough slog. Luckily for all of us, this is not the case here. With Tom Story at the helm, and Beckman's star turn (ably assisted by Fruit) this is a show that NEEDS to be on your holiday viewing list.

Running Time: 75 minutes with no intermission.

How to Keep an Alien runs through December 16, 2018 at Dance Loft on 14th, located at 4618 14th St NW in Washington DC. For tickets, click here.

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From This Author Elliot Lanes

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