MYS­TERY PLAY

The Twi­light Zone is set to send chills down your spines this Christ­mas

SFX - - Red alert -

Af­ter furtively watch­ing re-runs of The Twi­light Zone while grow­ing up, Mr Burns play­wright Anne Wash­burn is now adapt­ing the long-run­ning CBS an­thol­ogy se­ries for Lon­don’s Almeida The­atre.

“It’s about mys­tery, and the mys­te­ri­ous,” she tells Red Alert, “and the the­atre is quite nat­u­rally a place of mys­tery and of mys­ter­ies.

“When I was think­ing about which episodes to adapt I’d ask peo­ple, ‘What Twi­light Zone episode scarred you as a child?’ which is a ques­tion to which ev­ery Amer­i­can has an an­swer,” she tells Red Alert. “I was re­ally in­trigued to in­ves­ti­gate The Twi­light Zone, which is a part of the cul­tural weather. I’d never thought very care­fully about it, but it felt quite for­ma­tive.”

Ad­mit­ting that she has “taken some lib­er­ties to ad­just them for the stage,” Wash­burn and di­rec­tor Richard Jones care­fully con­sid­ered what episodes should be in­cluded. “There are some, which are bril­liant on the screen but would be sense­less in the the­atre, or are bril­liant in the con­text of back then, but are ex­posed and dated now,” she rea­sons. “The se­ries is a funny beast be­cause TV writ­ing at that time was just emerg­ing from the­atre, so many of the episodes have the pac­ing and rhythm of play scripts, but at the same time, they also had a very dis­tinct vis­ual style. Some episodes re­ally couldn’t have the same im­pact on the stage but oth­ers work beau­ti­fully and in some ways are now even bet­ter.”

In­sist­ing that “the ten­sions and con­cerns which un­der­lie the se­ries are time­less,” Wash­burn says that some episodes are per­haps omi­nously pre­scient. “There’s a won­der­ful one we thought of do­ing, ‘The Mid­night Sun’, about the Earth heating up, which in 1961 seemed fan­ci­ful but now feels a bit too on the nose!”

The Twi­light Zone is on at the Almeida The­atre from 5 De­cem­ber to 27 Jan­uary.

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