Jeff Leard and Sydney Hayduk collaborate in a ribald and relevant comedy that transcends mere mockery of human absurdity to a place that reminds us that we make the world in our own image. If that sounds heavy, or arduous, it shouldn’t. This show is unstoppably funny from top to bottom, and even as it makes you feel, it makes sure you’ll be laughing deep and hard.
The essence of the Angels & Aliens’ emotional punch comes in two interwoven levels. First, there is the tension between roommates Syd and Jeff that has resulted from what sounds like a rather unsuccessful sexual experience. The audience never really finds out what happened between the pair, but that isn’t the point. The point is that something has changed between them, and they are exploring what that change means for their friendship. The stakes here are high in ways that are easy to understand, and moreover subtly and vibrantly enacted by the duo.
A lot of this exploration is done on a sort of metaphorical level within the world of a cooperative cellphone-based game that Syd and Jeff play as a way to, initially, break the speechless tension of the morning after. In this world, there are two groups of supernatural beings, angels and aliens, who influence the development of a race of ape-like creatures on a planet called Earth that share an oddly similar historical narrative to our own. The incisive intelligence with which this story is told makes it an emotional experience. By framing this commentary in a profoundly humorous perspective, the show sneaks past the part of us that is ready to push against the truth when it hurts.
Either of these stories could probably form a show on their own, but the way they are woven together by the fantastic performances of Leard and Hayduk makes them each more profound and interesting, and elevates the show above the crowd of Fringe shows that only make you laugh. This show makes you laugh hard, makes you think hard, and makes you feel hard for the characters on stage. It’s the total package.