Review of 'Twilight Zone'

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The Twilight Zone American television series from the 1950s/1960s is iconic with a certain style and type of story that always had a sting in it's tale and always a bit “out there” with most stories straying easily into Science Fiction and Fantasy. This play takes this and transfers it, quite effectively, to the stage. As you enter the theatre the stage curtain is a “CBS” logo on a massive image of a television screen and the curtain is raised…

The show consists of a series of stories that we switch between throughout the 2 hour 30 minute running time (with 20 minute interval). The show starts with travellers stranded in a quiet diner after their bus is halted by a snowstorm. Problem is that there were only six passengers but seven show up in the diner. A police officer informs them he has tracked a series of foot prints from a mysterious flying object's crash site to the diner…so who is the alien? When a couple visit their child's bedroom on hearing her calling their name they find she is not in the room but they can still hear her calling. An astronaut on a long-term space mission falls in love in the weeks leading up to his flight. During his flight he makes a fateful decision but unfortunately his love makes another…With the threat of nuclear war a neighbourhood finds out their friends are not all they expected. Several test pilots find that time keeps changing the number of people who were on the plane.

The stage is simple with a the night sky backdrop familiar to those who have watched the television shows. The signature door also features throughout as does the occasional swirly-eye motifs also from the TV show paraded around the stage. Though simple the sets are surprisingly effective and quickly moved into position by an incredible stage crew who dress in black with stars to match the background and are often seen lurking at the back of the stage during a scene. The acting is quite good and suitably dramatic with only the occasional dip into camp/panto characterisation such as when someone stops and starts talking like Rod Sterling (the host from the TV show) to the audience in a small circle of spotlight (“…you are now entering a dimension of time and space…”) or the tongue-in-cheek on-going gag running through all the stories of cigarettes mysteriously appearing in people's hands. The stories are played seriously with the performers really convincing. There is true drama here though only a few hard hitters (the nuclear war sequence gets particularly fraught). Special effects and make-up effects are minimal but where they are used they work very well (the old astronaut is the only bit of makeup that does not quite work).

The second half does slightly drag with the nuclear war story seeming to go on forever but this is really only a minor issue. Otherwise “Twilight Zone” is a bit of fun that fans of the TV show will get a kick out of though general theatre goers will likely enjoy as well particularly if you do not mind a bit of the odd…

Note that the theatre programme is worth a look. Though expensive at £8 (there is also a copy of the play script available) it not only has great pictures from the show but also some interesting articles (made into newspaper-style) including from fantasy author Neil Gaiman.

Rating:

Review Date: 2019-03-28



Ambassadors Theatre

Location: London (England)

Address: West Street, London WC2H 9ND ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Leicester Square

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7395 5405

URL: https://www.theambassadorstheatre.co.uk/

The Ambassadors is a small theatre across from The Ivy and just next door to “St. Martin's Theatre” (home to “The Mousetrap”) on West Street, a small distance from Leicester Square. The foyer is tiny with stairs leading down to the stalls or up to the circle. There are bars on each level and acoustics are acceptable.