“Leave reality at the door.”
Fresh from a sell-out run at the Almeida Theatre, The Twilight Zone has now arrived on London’s West End at the Ambassador’s Theatre. Adapted by Anne Washburn and directed by Richard Jones, the production of the cult CBS television series is a show that aims to convey the blurred lines between reality and illusion. To reflect this theme, the plot is disjointed, but this makes the piece difficult to follow for theatre-goers, especially those who are not familiar with the original television series.
The play gets off to a great start – a compelling mystery surrounding a random group of people stuck at a diner. There is talk of aliens and an unidentified flying object, and before you know it, you are pulled right into the story. The tension builds, but quickly, the play moves on too soon. The Twilight Zone presents eight separate stories on stage, all which echo the original episodes from the series. As audience members, we are presented with some bizarre notions here and we struggle to understand what is real.
Although this theme is increasingly relevant in the modern world and a sophisticated take on how we perceive the media, I struggled to find some parts entertaining. There were some pieces that I found captivating, and others that I found long-winded and senseless.
The highlight of this show is its exceptionally strong ensemble cast. As they are all required to perform a diverse range of characters throughout, this allowed them to show off their phenomenal acting talents. Nicholas Karimi and Daniel Crossley’s dramatic performances particularly stood out for me, whilst Oliver Alvin-Wilson was a joy to watch on stage. It is excellent to see Natasha J. Barnes perform in an obscure piece such as this, but it will please musical theatre fans to know that she still does get to show off the dulcet tones of her singing voice.
Fans of The Twilight Zone will enjoy the innovative way that the series is presented on stage. A dazzling set echoes the iconic opening credits, while the intelligent illusions throughout the production are impressive. Even once leaving me thinking, “how on Earth did they do that?”
Sadly, I felt if I had been more familiar with the original series I would have enjoyed it much more than I did. However, although I would have appreciated more of an emphasis on plot and character development, I was pleased to be spending my Friday night witnessing some incredible acting talent.
Reviewed by Freya Martyniak
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