Review - The Twilight Zone transfers to the Ambassadors Theatre

The Twilight Zone
Our critics rating: 
Date: 
Wednesday, 13 March, 2019
Review by: 

The West End is already full of stage versions of films, with Waitress and 9 to 5 newly added to the musicals roster and All About Eve to the one for plays. Now the back TV catalogue is being plundered too, with Only Fools and Horses recently turned into a musical and now a transfer for the Almeida's 2017 stage version of The Twilight Zone. The original series aired between 1959 and 1964, with subsequent revivals following in the mid-eighties and then early noughties, with yet another series now set to premiere on 1st April in the US.

So the currency for this franchise is still riding high. And American playwright Anne Washburn's stage adaptation, fusing elements from multiple episodes, is both endearingly retro but also at times genuinely disturbing, too. It creates an air of sustained mystery around events like the disappearance of a child and dog into a parallel universe, or whether there's an alien amongst a set of bus passengers who are suddenly delayed in a diner when the bridge they need to cross is deemed unsafe.

There's also one particularly piercing scene of crisis and Cold War dread, as an impending nuclear strike is announced and a bunch of neighbours try to gain access to the secure bunker that only one of them has made underneath his house.

This feels acutely and properly terrifying. At other times, director Richard Jones brings a knowing, comic book sense of irreverence to some of the scenarios. His designers - Paul Steinberg's sets, Sarah Angliss and Christopher Shutt's sound, and Mimi Jordan Sherin and D.M. Wood's lighting - are powerfully suggestive and contribute massively to the mood of mystery. An ensemble cast superbly morph and mutate into different characters with the help of Nicky Gillibrand's costumes and Aletta Collins's subtle choreography.

With Ghost Stories returning soon to Lyric Hammersmith, the London theatre will have a double dose of the supernatural. The Twilight Zone doesn't exactly make you jump out of your skin as Ghost Stories does - but it has a more psychological impact that gets under your skin instead.

The Twilight Zone is at the Ambassadors Theatre until 1st June.

The Twilight Zone tickets are available now. 

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