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Greater London
posted/updated: 13 Mar 2019 -
The Twilight Zone
Adapted by Anne Washburn from stories by Rod Sterling, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. Ron Fogelman presents the Almeida Theatre production
society/company: West End & Fringe (directory)
performance date: 12 Mar 2019
venue: Ambassadors Theatre, London
reviewer/s: Paul Johnson (Sardines review)


The Cast of The Twilight Zone - The Ambassadors Theatre (c) Johan Persson

★★★★

Never has the tagline ‘Leave Reality at the Door’ been more relevant than this week as the Almeida Theatre’s West End transfer of The Twilight Zone opens at the perfectly intimate Ambassadors Theatre. This venue doesn’t suit every production which plays on its stage (don’t mention Foxfinder) but, in this case, I couldn’t think of a better theatre to induce the iconic, supernatural twists of the sixty-year-old TV series.

Anne Washburn’s complex and adaptation, stylishly directed by Richard Jones and featuring Aletta Collins’ all-important and entertaining choreography, keeps you guessing throughout the interval and right up to the end. The star-filled black box, featuring half a dozen side-panels which open and shut before blending into the surroundings… doorways, chairs, beds and a full-sized bar counter, come and go throughout at the hand of various cast members dressed in complementary starry blacks.

To recount the plot would be akin to the impossible, which is why it takes over two hours to get anywhere near a resolution – in the auditorium. Suffice to say, Washburn’s occasionally tongue-in-cheek adaptation picks apart a number of stories from Rod Sterling, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson and interweaves them in such a way that one cannot help but get drawn in.

Add in the mandatory swirling black and white rotating eyeballs, doors and spirals… Richard Jones has got the style just about right as he successfully manages to reproduce the show’s original era in a way that intrigues, confuses, amuses and compares in equal measure. Hidden aliens, children being sucked into supernatural vortexes, a psychiatrist’s psychotic patient, a 50-year space journey and a ventriloquist's creepy dummy … it’s all here.

Performances are completely ensemble but I found myself drawn to the watchable Natasha Barnes (famous for covering Sheridan Smaith's Funny Girl absense) who shines throughout and even has advantage taken of her stunning singing vocals.

The longest single scene of the night surrounds the 1950s fear of annihilation from the atom bomb and one neighbour’s decision to build an underground shelter for his family. Derision from friends and fellow neighbours turns into desperation, begging and fighting when the sirens sound, triggering racial abuse and all manner of recognisable negative traits which simmer beneath (and on) the surface today.

The Twilight Zone is playing at the Ambassadors Theatre, currently until 1st June.
More info and tickets at: https://twilightzonetheplay.com/tickets 

The Cast of The Twilight Zone - The Ambassadors Theatre (c) Johan Persson









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