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