Search

The Twilight Zone, Almeida, review: ‘Crazy, boundary-breaking theatre’

PUBLISHED: 10:08 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:47 18 December 2017

The Twilight Zone. Cosmo Jarvis and Oliver Alvin-Wilson.  Picture: Marc Brenner

The Twilight Zone. Cosmo Jarvis and Oliver Alvin-Wilson. Picture: Marc Brenner

Archant

Richard Jones delivers a hypnotic production. It’s very much an ensemble effort as a cast of nine actors present storylines in the show’s trade-mark heightened style

The Twilight Zone The Twilight Zone

There’s good reason why CBS’ iconic 1959-64 series The Twilight Zone still pervades popular culture.

With its blend of genres - horror, gothic, detective, melodrama - and its contrasting contexts of everyday apple-pie America and the eerily futuristic, the themes struck a real chord when it first aired during the paranoia of the cold war. But anxieties about nuclear war, ecological catastrophe, and the failure of antibiotics persist, as does the issue of what constitutes national identity.

With his impressive opera-directing credentials, Richard Jones delivers a hypnotic production. It’s very much an ensemble effort as a cast of nine actors present storylines in the show’s trade-mark heightened style, here re-configured into aria-like, truncated scenes all deftly pulled together in adapter Anne Washburn’s clever script.

Die-hard fans of Rod Serling’s original show won’t be disappointed in the selection.

A group of marooned bus travellers taking refuge from a snowstorm in a diner can’t explain the sudden appearance of an extra passenger – is he an alien? A well-meaning teacher (Amy Griffiths) meets her childhood self (Adrianna Bertola plays multiple creepy child roles) and a disturbing back-story of extortion emerges. An insomniac (John Marquez) tells his psychiatrist (Oliver Alvin-Wilson) he’s taunted by a predatory cat-woman. In homage to Stranger Things, a fourth dimension swallows up a sleeping child. At times, reverence tips into indulgence and detail is overwhelming. Actors dressed in shadowy costumes whirl props conjuring the show’s swirly ident or favourite tropes: grotesque pig-masks, bandaged faces, the alien head from To Serve Man, cigarettes to suggest paranormal affiliation (a good running gag here). Transitions are dizzying as the storylines become entangled. The final narration could be trimmed. A standout scene combines the storyline from The Shelter with The Monsters are Due on Maple Street and shows how quickly a modern-day witch-hunt can result following the threat of alien invasion.

The stylish set by Paul Steinberg reflects the cat-woman’s significant refrain, ‘Never be afraid to dream. Dream everything you want to.’ Part parody, part a high art celebration of popular culture, it’s crazy, boundary-breaking theatre - an intoxicating ride.

Rating: 4/5 stars

1 comment

  • Er, it's at the Almeida Theatre, not the Park Theatre.

    Report this comment

    David Allardice

    Thursday, December 14, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Latest Islington Entertainment Stories

Yesterday, 15:57

Upper Street’s famous King’s Head Theatre pub could move into a “trendy neighbourhood bar” for more than 18 months until its new site is ready, a new report reveals.

Thu, 11:10

Five star review for English National Ballet’s showcase of American dance

Wed, 15:37

Emma Bartholomew and her family visit Hot Stone in Chapel Market where you cook your main course on sizzling slabs of volcanic magma

Mon, 10:55

“Perhaps only in Britain could one succeed in writing a thriller about the weather,” observed David Haig who both wrote and stars in this little-known true story about D-Day.

PROMOTED CONTENT

“I try and do my best to enhance the young person’s capabilities. I’m very focused on their education, their wellbeing and their cultural needs.”

Breaking News

Yesterday, 10:07

Arsene Wenger is to leave Arsenal at the end of the season, which will end an association of more than two decades with the North London giants.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now