Fringe Review: How to Spot an Alien

To be blunt and to the point, this is the best Fringe show we’ve seen this year, my 6 year old was blown away by it.

For a total of only 3 actors to carry a show for nearly an hour, they have to be good. For only 3 actors to carry a show for nearly an hour with no props, no costume changes (putting on a jumper doesn’t count) and no actual stage, whilst managing to fully captivate their audience, they need to be fearless, and insanely talented. They really were.

Before the show even began we were all in awe of the venue as soon as we walked in. From the outside, The Roundabout is a tent – nothing impressive. But when you walk inside it’s the smartest little venue I’ve ever seen. Stage in the middle, nowhere to hide. Audience seating is over staggered 4 rows.

The best tent interior you will ever see (pic from Paines Plough)!

The actors were there greeting us as we walked in which was a lovely touch, then with no announcement the show began. It all revolves around siblings Jelly and Jonjo, whose mum mysteriously vanishes. They move in with a never before seen (and somewhat jerky) Aunty, to save themselves from being sent to an orphanage. Phew, a new relative to keep them safe and secure – or maybe not? Their newly acquired Aunt locks them in the house, bans them from asking any questions and says under absolutely no circumstances are they ever to go into the attic. Television however, there’s plenty of.

Over the course of the show, Jelly, Jonjo and Mum/Aunt Lena (with the help of some awesome sound and lighting), truly entertained. The dialogue was spot on and pitched perfectly. I was there with my 6 and 3 year old and although the show is aimed at age 5 and above, my younger boy also loved it, especially when Aunt Lena scowled and pointed at him as she scolded the children and when we learnt all about staying away from Black Holes for fear of getting spaghettified (they’re both still asking if that’s true). I glanced at my 6 year old a few times and he was totally transfixed.

Jonjo and the spaceship

The cast must have been exhausted at the end. This is an energetic show; a lot of jumping around, floating in space, running and hiding and attic climbing, not to mention some impressive floss moves and strutting around to Lady Gaga. With no props, no backdrop and a central stage, the Paines Plough team do an almighty job of painting a picture and helping us envisage exactly where they are and what they’re seeing. I don’t want to give too much away, so if you want to know how to spot an alien, or find out what’s in the attic you’ve got 2 Edinburgh shows left.

If you’re into high energy, great acting, laughs and something a little different you’ll love How to Spot an Alien. It’s not a typical children’s show so even if you don’t have little un’s to tag along with, it’s worth a visit. More than half the audience in with us were child free. Oh and if you do have children, they get stickers and balloons – always an added bonus!

How to Spot an Alien. Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th August, 1130am.
Venue 26, Roundabout @ Summerhall.

Book Tickets for Edinburgh here

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After The Fringe, this fantastic Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd production goes on tour around the UK (taking the Roundabout venue with them). See How to Spot an Alien by Georgia Christou, from September to October in Salford Quays, Kendal, Margate, Poole, Lincoln, Stoke on Trent and Luton. Go see, you will not be disappointed!


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We were gifted tickets to this show in return for an open and honest review. All words and opinions are my own.

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  1. 8th September 2018 / 16:48

    How to Spot an Alien fringe show with barely no props etc. really sounds amazing. I like the subject of the show and I’m sure the kids would get a real kick out of it. This is something I would like to do.

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