How to Keep an Alien (Traverse, Edinburgh)
Fringe First winner Sonya Kelly returns with a 'touching tale of falling in love and proving it to the government'
Solo shows, said Ken Campbell, are always better with other people in them, and so it proves in this engaging autobiographical turn from Sonya Kelly, an Irish actress with Rough Magic who anatomises her love affair with a foreign colleague which starts while performing a Russian play in an Irish castle.
How she then holds on to her alien - in fact, an Austr-alienne (Barry Humphries always said that he'd cast Dame Edna as an Antipodean version of Bizet's L'Arlesienne - "L'Australienne") - is the subject of an 80 minute stand-up duet with a fey and brilliantly efficient stage manager, Justin Murphy.
Kelly throws herself around like an untrained puppy in jeans and specs while Murphy calmly picks up the sound cues on his laptop, moves bits of set dressing then bursts into a pretty good rendition of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes".
The alien called Kate lands a gig and a visa to work with the National Theatre of Scotland, and when she returns home, an intimate love letter written on a sandwich bag is read out to her by her own mother. This has the unexpected effect of making Sonya a close friend of Kate's family.
After a few minor brushes with the authorities, and a plethora of smart and funny observational gags about cultural differences - Sonya arrives in Oz to feel the gentle breeze of a blow torch on her face - the couple go camping and get lost in the jungle.
And, a lovely first night touch, Kate joined her partner for a bow... leaving Justin to give his perfect impersonation of a gooseberry.
How to Keep an Alien continues at the Traverse until 30 August