In Fort Worth, powerful plays on race and loss: 'Rasheeda Speaking' at Circle Theatre, 'The Aliens' at Stage West
Nancy Churnin, Dallas Morning News Theatre Critic, May 8, 2017
...The Aliens by Annie Baker, has its own potent mix of a devastating and hopeful message. As with The Flick, Baker's 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner, that received such an affecting production in 2015 at Undermain Theatre, Baker fills long silences with mountains of emotional information. A high school student, Evan (an affecting performance by newcomer Parker Gray), working in a restaurant, stumbles on Jasper, a high school dropout, and KJ, a college dropout, hanging out in the back, where the garbage cans and a wooden bench with warped boards are.
Evan is nervous because Jasper and KJ aren't supposed to be there. Jasper and KJ pick up on how lonely Evan is and how he lacks confidence. These two guys, who may seem like "losers" in someone else's view, lift Evan up.
There's a twist in the casting that reflects a twist in the story. Jake Buchanan, who brings home the sweet guilelessness of KJ , and Joey Folsom, who conveys the sharp intensity of Jasper, will alternate in the roles. Part of the reason for this is because of how close this story hits home for Buchanan, who was pre-cast as KJ for The Aliens, before his younger brother, Cal, died at 20 of a drug overdose July 7.