Imagination, illusion and impossibilities in The Twilight Zone (Ambassadors Theatre)

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Posted by May B on Saturday 23rd of March 2019

The eight intertwined stories presented originally through this production reflect 1950s America’s obsession with all things alien, UFO, sci-fi, space travel, cryogenics, paranormal and psychology.

The show starts with a coach stranded in a snow storm and a tense diner scene. Other stories – dreams, disappearances and other dimensions - quickly unfold. I loved the line “He’s a physicist; he’ll be able to help”. Cracking. And the constant strange appearance of cigarettes (“I don’t even smoke”) amongst all the characters provides an interesting thread.

There are frequent TV interludes to provide commentary and further stories. There are swift and frequent scene changes (absolutely loved the weird, goggle-wearing and star-bedecked stage hands) as we move between diner, home, therapist office, hospital, space station and even carnival. Beware those who are fearful of clowns or ventriloquist dummies. The costumes are simple but accurate and evocative. There are twists and tricks along the way that delight.

The first half was fast paced and intriguing. Things slowed a little in the second half as the stories developed. There’s an endearing love story with astronauts and time travel. There’s also an interesting end-of-the-world scene where the fast deterioration into racist accusations sadly mirrors some of our current social pathologies around fear of strangers.

It’s tongue-in-cheek, quirky and lots of fun. We laughed a lot. My companion, who remembers the original cult TV series, noted that the show stayed true-to-form by jumping between stories and leaving things open-ended for the imagination.


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