Cabaret cheese runnin’ through alien veins

It was a space jam without Michael Jordan. Need more be said? Probably.The air quality was reminiscent of a high school dance. Overuse of dry ice, accompanied by the screeching of an electric violin created the ambiance of invading outsiders, but left audience members rubbing sore eyes and coughing to clear their lungs of the chalky film that had surely left a thin coating on their bronchioles.

It featured a lying cheetah. Get it?

Blown up surgical gloves and Christmas bulbs dangled on strings from big plastic sheets draped from rafter to rafter. The tables were covered with tinfoil and alien print paper. Pretty? No, but it wasn’t supposed to be. Different? Yes. Otherworldly might be most accurate and for a reason.

“I’ve got cheese runnin’ through my veins,” was belted out as an overenthusiastic gospel tune, followed by a cheering, “Here’s to cheeses!”

Another good one.

“If you are really confused, don’t worry, so am I,” said one of the aliens that had descended upon the Merchant Ale House from the planet Plutopia on the evening of Feb. 3, spaceship and all. Ah, Plutopia! That’s right, where the grass is green and the milk is free. Apparently anyway.

People sat around the tinfoil/alien tables and drank sociable drinks. Other people, alien people, danced and sang and showcased their musical and theatrical talents around the sociable people. And sometimes, nobody did anything at all.

This was Alien Nation FX. A science fiction cabaret created by the local Suitcase in Point theatre company. The group of 12 has been together since last year when they formed so they could enter the Toronto Fringe Festival. Alien Nation FX was Suitcase’s second cabaret. Their first was in the early fall of 2001, called The Wape & Grine, in spirit of St. Catharines annual Grape and Wine festival.

“September was a success, so we wanted to do another one,” said Deanna Jones, a founding member of Suitcase.

“It’s science fiction, but not at all scientific,” said Jones. “It will be a relaxed show… like a casual party.”

It started fashionably late, but maybe that was because the crowd was late arriving as well. The evening was stop and go. The time lag between performances eventually turned into drag time.

Jones described the cabaret as “a big collaboration between 12 people … a collection of different things.”

Suitcase-mate Natasha Pedros described the cabaret as having “lots of interesting and creative ideas… with interesting dances and lots of surprises.”

Well, a creative and interesting collection it was.

The vague pre-cabaret descriptions given by Jones were accurate. In true cabaret spirit, as Jones forecasted, audience members joined in the show. Obviously unscripted at times, the group of performers incorporated the shouts from the audience in a clever fashion, displaying their true performing abilities.

Watching this cabaret show was like watching Saturday Night Live. Sometimes it was funny and sometimes it was, well, it just was. The performers were always having fun, whether they were performing or not. Sometimes it was like a personal party they were having and those who did not know them were just observers. For the casual observer this cabaret would be entertaining and mildly amusing. The group has a lot of energy, evident in their constant enthusiasm, whether dancing, singing, reading poetry or just cheering one another on. Most of the acts though, were humourous, witty, and entertaining, but sometimes it was unclear as to whether it was time to pay attention or not.

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