This year’s performance by the MDG Players is a pastiche of sci-fi storytelling that lampoons radio plays and the stories of Stephen King and John Wyndham. Presented as a radio play, Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully is filled with clever humour and wit that results in a very original, fun way to spend an evening.
The plot is simple – the village of Cresdon Green, Buckinghamshire, is a normal English town that has just happened to be slowly invaded by aliens. It starts with a dome being placed over the village and then Uljabaan, an alien trying desperately hard to impress his superiors, attempting to blend in with the villagers. Whilst some embrace the aliens, others, led by the rebellious Katrina Lyons, want to see the aliens gone. Hilarity ensues.
The biggest send up of this play is the way it parodies science fiction. The basic plot of a dome blocking the village off from outside contact has been used in two Doctor Who stories (The Daemons and The Hungry Earth) as well as the Stephen King novel Under the Dome. And that’s not the only Stephen King reference, as a hilarious joke about the size of his name on his books got a huge chuckle from me.
Other authors mocked in a brilliant subplot about Uljabaan documenting Earth fiction are Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Shakespeare, with the conspiracy theory that Shakespeare was simply a pen name being mocked by the alien invader. As someone studying English (and film) at university I did appreciate a lot of the literary references. My dad mentioned how the play had a John Wyndham feel to it and whilst I haven’t read his books I understand that they’re all about ordinary people getting caught up in crazy events, or “cozy catastrophe”, much like this play.
Another hilarious running gag are the multiple attempts by Uljabaan to open a pub to earn the human’s trust, and Uljabaan’s frustration at both the humans and his own technology is a highlight. These aliens have a severe issue with taking things literally and this joke is used multiple times to great effect. The farcical nature of the play gives it a very Monty Python tone, and I’ve since learnt that the stage version is in fact a combination of episodes from a radio series, which would explain the random nature of events.
On the subject of radio dramas it’s worth noting how the format is played with in a live setting. The sound effects are often integrated as part of the humour, not just used for the sound but to add humour to the fact that a radio piece is on stage. Characters swap positions and roles constantly and it’s a very clever way of playing with the format. Whilst I don’t listen to too much radio I do listen to Big Finish audio dramas and understand how it works, so to see it parodied was very funny.
In conclusion, as a fan of science fiction storytelling I really enjoyed this performance. Great characters, hilarious situations and the perfect amount of silliness made this a hugely entertaining send up of genre storytelling and the English lifestyle.
‘Welcome to our village, please invade carefully’ by Eddie Robson. By arrangement with Samuel French.
Director: Mike Standing