The Twilight Zone, Almeida, review: ‘Crazy, boundary-breaking theatre’

PUBLISHED: 10:08 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:47 18 December 2017

The Twilight Zone. Cosmo Jarvis and Oliver Alvin-Wilson.  Picture: Marc Brenner

The Twilight Zone. Cosmo Jarvis and Oliver Alvin-Wilson. Picture: Marc Brenner

Archant

Richard Jones delivers a hypnotic production. It’s very much an ensemble effort as a cast of nine actors present storylines in the show’s trade-mark heightened style

The Twilight Zone The Twilight Zone

There’s good reason why CBS’ iconic 1959-64 series The Twilight Zone still pervades popular culture.

With its blend of genres - horror, gothic, detective, melodrama - and its contrasting contexts of everyday apple-pie America and the eerily futuristic, the themes struck a real chord when it first aired during the paranoia of the cold war. But anxieties about nuclear war, ecological catastrophe, and the failure of antibiotics persist, as does the issue of what constitutes national identity.

With his impressive opera-directing credentials, Richard Jones delivers a hypnotic production. It’s very much an ensemble effort as a cast of nine actors present storylines in the show’s trade-mark heightened style, here re-configured into aria-like, truncated scenes all deftly pulled together in adapter Anne Washburn’s clever script.

Die-hard fans of Rod Serling’s original show won’t be disappointed in the selection.

A group of marooned bus travellers taking refuge from a snowstorm in a diner can’t explain the sudden appearance of an extra passenger – is he an alien? A well-meaning teacher (Amy Griffiths) meets her childhood self (Adrianna Bertola plays multiple creepy child roles) and a disturbing back-story of extortion emerges. An insomniac (John Marquez) tells his psychiatrist (Oliver Alvin-Wilson) he’s taunted by a predatory cat-woman. In homage to Stranger Things, a fourth dimension swallows up a sleeping child. At times, reverence tips into indulgence and detail is overwhelming. Actors dressed in shadowy costumes whirl props conjuring the show’s swirly ident or favourite tropes: grotesque pig-masks, bandaged faces, the alien head from To Serve Man, cigarettes to suggest paranormal affiliation (a good running gag here). Transitions are dizzying as the storylines become entangled. The final narration could be trimmed. A standout scene combines the storyline from The Shelter with The Monsters are Due on Maple Street and shows how quickly a modern-day witch-hunt can result following the threat of alien invasion.

The stylish set by Paul Steinberg reflects the cat-woman’s significant refrain, ‘Never be afraid to dream. Dream everything you want to.’ Part parody, part a high art celebration of popular culture, it’s crazy, boundary-breaking theatre - an intoxicating ride.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

January is well underway but it’s not too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Yesterday, 19:13

Hendon’s Amaranta Chavez has dreams of becoming a world-class rhythmic gymnast and a Just Giving campaign has been created to help her in that quest.

Yesterday, 18:58

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has called for the dismissal of Inner North London’s senior coroner Mary Hassell after a “deeply disappointing” meeting with community leaders to discuss her refusal to respect Jewish burial requirements.

Yesterday, 18:56

Andrew Dismore AM, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, has added his voice to the calls for the resignation of Inner North London coroner Mary Hassell.

Yesterday, 17:30

Sarries know a win is a must on Saturday if they are to progress to quarter-finals

Yesterday, 17:00

Dinny Hall has designed women’s jewellery for more than 30 years. Described as a ‘little British Tiffany’, she lives in West Hampstead.

Yesterday, 16:19

2017 saw a number of changes made to regulations governing the private rented sector and a record number of government consultations held in relation to letting in the UK, meaning there is plenty for landlords to consider and act upon in the new year.

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now