The Twilight Zone (Ambassadors Theatre)
Verdict: Spooky and funny
Like university students up and down the land, Anne Washburn’s method of work relied on watching hours and hours of old television. Namely dusty old sci-fi series The Twilight Zone.
The original CBS TV series that ran from the late Fifties to the mid-Sixties achieved cult status with its twisted stories — a select few of which Washburn has tweaked together in an Almeida Theatre production now transferred to the Ambassadors.
The result is charmingly odd. Tales of decades-long space missions, haunted diners, bedroom portals to new dimensions and ventriloquists fill the dark stage in a surprisingly effective Crossroads-esque low-tech way. Its nicely clunky sci-fi vibe and vintage twists had us laughing and oo‑ing like children.
The energetic cast defiantly start at volume 11 and proceed from there. Particularly watchable were Natasha J. Barnes, with heaps of spooky charisma, and Neil Haigh, with his terrifyingly deadpan face.
Some tales verge on the confusingly impressionistic (nightmarish singing circus folk, I’m looking at you). But, good grief, it’s engaging.
Austentatious (Fortune Theatre)
Verdict: Nonsense and sensibility
The secret is out. You can stage a full play sans set, sans script, sans direction. Thank Alan Ayckbourn for his services, for he is no longer needed. In Austentatious, breeches and flowing dresses are divided among a cast of six.