The Aliens

Coal Mine Theatre launches fourth season with philosophical Annie Baker play

Presented by Coal Mine Theatre
Written by Annie Baker
Directed by Mitchell Cushman

William Greenblatt (front left), Noah Reid (back centre), Maxwell Haynes (front right).Photo by Tim Leyes.

Coal Mine Theatre opened their fourth season last week with a new production of Annie Baker's The Aliens directed by Mitchell Cushman (Outside The March).

Set in the fictional town of of Shirley, Vermont, the play follows two 30-year-old dropouts, the offbeat KJ (William Greenblatt) and his friend Jasper (Noah Reid), during their daily gatherings behind the local Green Sheep coffee shop where they smoke cigarettes, drink shroom tea and talk about music and poetry. Here, they meet Evan (Maxwell Haynes in his Toronto debut), an akward teenage shop employee, who becomes an unlikely member of their inner circle.

Over the course of the show, we learn something substantial about these lost young men, despite their masculine posturing. Baker's script is filled with thoughtful silences and slices of conversation, both mundane and profound, that slowly reveal these characters' intense inner lives. KJ lives at home with his Mom and struggles with mental illness, hiding a dark side behind his jovial, trickster nature, while Jasper channels a broken heart into hard drugs and a promising novel.

While it may seem like not much happens in The Aliens—except for a shocking offstage event in the second halfall three leads undergo a significant change from beginning to end. Perhaps none more so than the endearing, impressionable Evan, who's world view is unmistakenly altered by regular encounters with the two older men.

Featuring a gritty set by Anahita Dehbonehie, Coal Mine's production brings the audience right into the heart of the story with seating on either side of a picnic table where the main action is staged. Director Cushman is creative with limited space, having the actors exit and enter from unexpected locations in this realistic back alley setting.

In the hands of a less talented cast, The Aliens runs the risk of losing some audience members due to the vagueness of its plot. However, these three leads inject the text with humour and pick up on all of the emotional, physical and psychological ticks that make it a fascinating piece of theatre. Baker's work is especially powerful if you happen to know people like KJ and Jasper in real life.

The Aliens runs until October 8, 2017 at The Coal Mine Theatre (1454 Danforth Avenue). Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2017-09-20 - Sun, 2017-10-08
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