Based on the hit series which premiered on CBS in 1959 and ran for five seasons containing 156 episodes, The Twilight Zone a science-fiction anthology series set in a fifth dimension of space and time. Going into the play I knew very little about the background But what I was intrigued most by the production was an article I read in The Guardian on how the playwright Anne Washburn watched all of the episodes in order to create her stage adaptation. Having never seen an episode of the show yet seeing it pop up on Greatest TV Show lists in various publications, I just had to see how she was going to recreate the show on stage.
Photo (c) Marc Brenner
In perfect timing, I received a copy of the playtext from the publisher Oberon Books the day before I saw the show. I didn’t read the play until the day after. At the start of the text and the programme there is a list of only 6 episodes Anna Washburn used to create the show. On stage, the use of cross cutting between the stories kept the piece exciting and intriguing. I found that this amplified what The Twilight Zone means, for it to be a place between reality and fantasy because I felt that some of the characters could’ve been different sides of the 1 person. This was evident in Lizzy Connolly’s performance and the characters she played from a dancer heading to work in New York City into a circus girl called Maja who haunts a therapist’s patient and then becomes the therapist’s secretary. Whether this was a conscious casting decision or not, I found it particularly interesting because I couldn’t see it, though they performed brilliantly, with the other actors and their characters.
Photo (c) Marc Brenner
Paul Steinberg’s gorgeous set design decorated with speckles of white light created an eerie atmosphere in the Almeida. Considering the different locations the scenes took place, the transitions between them were pretty fast. And most of them didn’t distract from the show. Except one moment with a big headed alien who appeared on stage, said one line and then left, which I just didn’t get. At that point I gathered it was a reference to the TV series.
There were a few moments in the show that went over my head and, by the audience’s reaction, I took as references to the TV show. This included cigarettes appearing out of thin air and the characters suddenly describing The Twilight Zone to the audience. However, this didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the show. If anything, I felt like I was missing out on an inside joke. But this just means I’ll need to have a watch of the TV series.
Overall, I give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️. Shows like this aren’t usually my cup of tea but I did get what I wanted out of it. A pleasantly eerie show that doesn’t depend on horror as well as a fantastic performance from Lizzy Connolly.
The Twilight Zone is currently at the Almeida Theatre until 27th January. For tickets and more information please visit https://almeida.co.uk/whats-on/the-twilight-zone/5-dec-2017-27-jan-2018. To purchase the playtext please visit https://www.oberonbooks.com/the-twilight-zone.html
Until next time