Sunday, January 07, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.7: The Twilight Zone

The last few years have seen something of a minor explosion of horror-themed theatre in London - outside of the the annual London Horror Festival (a month-long celebration of horror theatre which runs throughout October), I believe I must have seen at least 5 horror-themed plays or dramatised readings staged in the capital during 2017. February this year also sees the Etcetera Theatre in Camden hosting a week-long Lovecraft season (which I will, of course, be covering in this blog). Currently a version of The Exorcist is playing in the West End, alongside The Woman in Black and a musical version of Young Frankenstein.

2018’s first foray into horror theatre was The Twilight Zone, which I saw a couple of evenings ago, and is currently running at the Almeida Theatre in Islington until January 27th. A portmanteau piece, the play adapts seven episodes of the classic tv show for the stage, linked by the initial framing device of a group of bus passengers stuck in a diner during a night of heavy snow.

This is also one of those entries (which I warned of in the prologue to this year’s daily blogging project) whose status as ‘Lovecraftian’is questionable. However, the mixture of science fiction and horror which appears in a number of the adapted tales - as well as the theme of strange events outside of the purview of human comprehension which appears in at least two - certainly strikes a Lovecraftian chord (post-The Twilight Zone, writer, producer and presenter Rod Serling also went on to host Night Gallery, which contains some early adaptions of Lovecraft - but I’m not sure that counts).

Notably, one of the episodes adapted for the stage - ‘Little Girl Lost’ - recounts the tale of a young girl and her dog who fall through a dimensional portal which unaccountably appears in her bedroom. Not only does this have parallels to Lovecraft’s ‘The Dreams in the Witch House’, but the staged version contains an implication of strange and nightmarish perceptial distortions (not dissimilar to those encountered in Ramsey Campbell’s mythos tale ‘The Render of the Veil’) effected by entry to the realm beyond our world - such that the little girl in question seems to find the appearance of her dog horrifying (the barking of the dog is also rendered distorted and monstrous whilst it is trapped in the alien otherworld).

So, even if not explicitly Lovecraftian, The Twilight Zone leans on some Lovecaftian themes and ideas, and is definitely worth seeing if you are in Lndon between now and the end of January.

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