The Twilight Zone at London Ambassadors Theatre | Review

The Twilight Zone has long proven itself to be a core part of the pop culture zeitgeist, with references to the classic show appearing in everything from The Simpsons to Madagascar, so it is no surprise that Anne Washburn’s adaptation has landed at the Ambassadors Theatre, following its sell-out run at the Almeida.

The show is a compilation of about eight adapted stories from the pantheon of classic Twilight Zone tales. We open with ‘Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?’, with the whole ensemble cast advised of the presence of an alien invader amongst them and not a soul willing to come forward. This scene, which plays out the majority of this story, sets the tone of the show very well, building some tension without being outright nerve-wracking.

Twilight Zone (Photography by Matt Crockett) Natasha J. Barnes, Daniel Crossley.
Twilight Zone (Photography by Matt Crockett) Natasha J. Barnes, Daniel Crossley.

For me, the two narrative highlights Perchance to Dream and The Shelter. The former affords us the glorious vocals of Natasha J Barnes and a particularly unnerving dream dance sequence. The latter is the dramatic peak of the show and one which rings painfully true even today, in which a group of friends and neighbours all turn on each other in the face of nuclear fallout.

Stylistically, this show is a campy delight. From the star-flecked, all-encompassing backdrop, to the hand rotated doors and eyes and all manner of other props, Richard Jones’ production successfully holds a nostalgic feel for the original material, all the while maintaining a cheeky nod to the contemporary audience, who may have had some contact with the stories’ televisual origins. The ensemble cast works well together, though I felt Matthew Steer and Daniel Crossley shone particularly, and the show’s use of sleight of hand and magical effects steps up the kitschy, retro supernatural feel.

The Twilight Zone is not a show one should see if you’re looking for a ground-breaking new narrative BUT what it does deliver in spades is fun. It does not shy away from its historic origins and, in leaning into them, it only amps up the glorious kitsch factor which keeps its source material a major tenet of modern pop culture.

The Twilight Zone is a realm where the impossible becomes probable, the infeasible likely and where the audience will always leave thoroughly entertained.

4 Stars

Review by Benjamin Powell

You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone…

Adapted by Anne Washburn (Mr Burns) and directed by Olivier Award-winner Richard Jones, this “piercingly smart” (Time Out) production of the acclaimed CBS Television series lands at the Ambassador’s Theatre, fresh from a rapturously received, sell-out run at the Almeida Theatre.

Hailed as “a treat from far beyond” (Evening Standard), this “whirling paranormal kaleidoscope” (The Guardian) leads you on a chilling journey into the unknown, through eight stories set where the extraordinary is ordinary, the impossible probable, and where you’re never entirely sure what’s real and what’s your imagination.

But don’t worry. Your imagination can’t hurt you… can it?

Unlock the door to “unsettling, dazzling and sophisticated entertainment” (WhatsOnStage) with this electrifying, unpredictable evening of mystery, fantasy and the wonderfully weird.

Oliver Alvin-Wilson
Alisha Bailey
Natasha J Barnes
Adrianna Bertola
Daniel Crossley
Dyfan Dwyfor
Neil Haigh
Nicholas Karimi
Lauren O’Neil
Matthew Steer

Based on stories by Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson
Adapted by Anne Washburn
Director Richard Jones
Set Design Paul Steinberg
Costume Design Nicky Gillibrand
Choreographer Aletta Collins
Lighting Mimi Jordan Sherin and D.M. Wood
Composition and Sound Sarah Angliss
Sound Christopher Shutt
Casting Julia Horan CDG
Illusions Richard Wiseman and Will Houstoun

The Twilight Zone
Booking to 1st June 2019

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