Al­phas on right wave­length

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRIDAY EXTRA -

AS its sec­ond sea­son gets un­der way on pay-TV chan­nel SyFy, Al­phas has be­come one of the most en­joy­able (if un­der­rated) shows out there, a quirky tale of strangely gifted crime­fight­ers that works equally well as a story of slightly dam­aged peo­ple tran­scend­ing their lim­i­ta­tions and em­brac­ing their flaws.

The Al­phas of the ti­tle each have unique abil­i­ties that set them apart, for bet­ter or worse, from the rest of the hu­man race. So while they may pos­sess in­cred­i­ble strength, unerring aim or the power to per­suade, they can also be fear­ful of harm­ing their loved one or un­able to form last­ing con­nec­tions with oth­ers.

Un­der the guid­ance of sym­pa­thetic shrink Dr Lee Rosen (David Strathairn), they are over­com­ing their is­sues– and tan­gling with the odd rogue al­pha as well.

Shap­ing up as the show’s break­out char­ac­ter is Gary, played by UK ac­tor Ryan Cartwright. While he’s gifted with the abil­ity to ‘‘see’’ and un­der­stand elec­tro­mag­netic wave­lengths – such as ra­dio waves – Gary’s autism has kept him sep­a­rate from the world for much of his life. Be­ing an in­te­gral part of Dr Rosen’s team, how­ever, has broad­ened his hori­zons. But as the new sea­son of Al­phas be­gins, Gary’s faith in Dr Rosen and his fel­low al­phas is shaken to the core.

Cartwright, whose cred­its in­clude Bones and Mad Men, says as­sum­ing an Amer­i­can ac­cent to play the char­ac­ter was the easy part. Be­fore film­ing his first scenes on Al­phas, he took more than a month to re­search what he viewed as the na­ture and char­ac­ter­is­tics of Gary’s autism to make his por­trayal authen­tic.

‘‘It is still some­thing that is not that well un­der­stood,’’ Cartwright says. ‘‘And there are many dif­fer­ent as­pects to Gary, so I needed to fig­ure out the specifics. It was just fas­ci­nat­ing re­search­ing autism and gen­eral neu­ro­science.’’

The char­ac­ter came into his own dur­ing Al­phas’ first sea­son, and Cartwright rel­ished play­ing that pro­gres­sion.

‘‘As you can see in the first few episodes, he is kind of petu­lant,’’ he says. ‘‘This is the first group of peo­ple . . . that haven’t treated him as a sec­ond-class ci­ti­zen. They re­alise he has these abil­i­ties and for the first time he is proud.The self­con­fi­dence is in full bloom.’’

The team’s ef­forts to thwart the plans of ex­trem­ist al­pha group Red Flag some­times comes at a cost, and Cartwright points out sea­son two of Al­phas will see Gary’s loy­al­ties di­vided.

‘‘I have found he has be­come a lot more iso­lated and on his own,’’ he says.

‘‘He doesn’t re­ally trust Dr Rosen or any­one. He prob­a­bly loves them in his heart but doesn’t trust them. He sees that ev­ery­one has their own mo­tives. They are go­ing against what he be­lieves is the purest be­lief of the al­phas from Dr Rosen’s orig­i­nal mes­sage. So he is more iso­lated but also more con­fi­dent as well.’’

Fri­days, 8.30pm, SF Chan­nel.

The cast of in­cludes Ryan Cartwright (far left).

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