Take A Trip Inside The Twilight Zone
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The Twilight Zone left its mark strewn across modern sci-fi, but most of today's audience probably haven't seen an episode of the cult TV show. So a show that adapts different stories from the anthology in a loving — if fun-poking — tone, might be a difficult sell to an audience unfamiliar with the source material.
There are officially eight episodes of the show adapted here, though the odd homage to others creeps in here and there. We see lost spacemen, imaginary children, a dreamland vixen and much more. Some of the stories are mere sketches, lightly touched upon and going nowhere really, while others grab your attention as you laugh along with them.
The different stories weave between one another. Sometimes dialogue from an upcoming scene booms out in an otherworldly tone, while sometimes actors break from one character into another. The transitions between stories are some of the play's most engaging moments, mimicking the tacky special effects of the original show, and thoroughly disorientating the audience. In the latter third, the many different plots seep together, as the play attempts to out-meta itself.
Only one story is told (nearly) unbroken from the rest. It tells the stories of a feared nuclear attack in 1960s suburban America, with one family on the street with a bomb shelter and everyone else who wants to get in. It's a much more grounded take on sci-fi, one that zeroes in on the underlying tensions in our society. The segment is excellent, but sticks out like a sore thumb. The rest of the play is content to poke fun at the cheapness and ridiculousness of the original show, thriving in its campiness, which barely compares with a story that grapples with racial and xenophobic American tensions.
We left wanting more from the Twilight Zone, though perhaps the best way to provide that would've been with less. Fewer stories and winks at the audience. But then a safe approach wouldn't have been quite true to the nature of the show. So we get this. A mixed, but fun, bag.
The Twilight Zone, The Almeida, Almeida Street, N1 1TA, £10-£48, until 27 January 2018.
Last Updated 14 December 2017