Seth Fisher and Natalia Payne in
Aliens with Extraordinary Skills
(© Carol Rosegg)
Seth Fisher and Natalia Payne in
Aliens with Extraordinary Skills
(© Carol Rosegg)
Can love exist when one of the parties is in desperate need of a green card? That's the primary question in Saviana Stanescu's whimsical romantic comedy about illegal immigrants, Aliens with Extraordinary Skills, now being presented by the Women's Project at the Julia Miles Theater.

Nadia (Natalia Payne) and Borat (Seth Fisher) came to the U.S. with visas that said they were "aliens with extraordinary skills in the circus." The trouble is, the visas were fake. So even though they work as clowns, there is no "Magic Circus" that supposedly employs them. The possibility of a romantic coupling between Nadia and Borat is briefly brought up, but it's quickly dismissed as neither has a green card, so there would be no point.

Instead, they journey to New York under assumed names. Nadia becomes "Ginger" and takes a room with kind-hearted exotic dancer Lupita (Jessica Pimentel), while Borat becomes "Steve" and drives a cab. Borat frequents the club where Lupita dances and declares his love for her. "And what role does the green card play in all that?" she asks him point blank, to which he cannot give her a satisfactory answer. Meanwhile, Nadia grows closer to Bob (Kevin Isola), a recently divorced man who prefers foreign women because he believes that people communicate better "when you are forced to pay closer attention to people's words."

The tone of the production, directed by Tea Alagic, is lighthearted and playful. Nadia and Borat keep their clown make-up on throughout, even when they're no longer working as clowns. Jennifer Moeller's costumes are a treat, particularly for a segment that has Nadia and Bob dressed up as a cheeseburger and diet coke. Kris Stone's set is stylishly abstract, and its white surface is like a blank canvas that gets brought to colorful life by lighting designer Gina Scherr.

Payne brings a fresh-faced earnestness to her portrayal, while Fisher has an appealing laid-back charm. Pimentel brings out the humor in her role without ever letting Lupita appear too ridiculous. The strongest work, however, comes from Isola, who adds dimension to Bob that seems only hinted at within the writing. A pair of INS agents round out the players, but they are flatly written and broadly performed by Shirine Babb and Gian Murray Gianino.

The play's bittersweet conclusion is somewhat predictable, but still touching. And if Aliens never rises to the level of extraordinary, it's still worthwhile and engaging.