BWW Reviews: THE TWILIGHT ZONE: LIVE! from Theater Schmeater
There are certain givens in Seattle. It rains a lot. You can pretty much find a Starbucks on every block. And Theater Schmeater's presentations of "The Twilight Zone: Live!" are always a blast. And their current incarnation being presented at ACT Theatre's Bullitt Cabaret is no exception as they once again transport us into the 60's and into another dimension. A dimension of sight, a dimension of sound, a dimension of … well, you get the idea.
Celebrating their 20th anniversary, Theater Schmeater has once again brought us stagings of three classic Twilight Zone tales. In "The Howling Man" a weary and lost traveler in Europe stumbles upon a monastery where the order has imprisoned a man who howls all night long protesting his innocence. But, as usual in the Zone, things are not always what they seem. Then in "The Jeopardy Room" a defecting Soviet agent is trapped in his hotel room by his former handlers with a deadly game of cat and mouse. But who is the cat and who is the mouse? And finally in "A Penny For Your Thoughts" a meek banker tosses a coin into a paper boy's coffers and it lands balanced on its edge. Suddenly the man is able read people's thoughts. But that's not always the best thing as he finds himself listening in on plans of lust and larceny. But, people's thoughts don't always match their actions.
As usual the cast is nothing short of sublime as they capture the nuances of the era while just staying outside the realm of making fun of the style. OK, they poke a little fun. Chris Macdonald is wonderfully distraught as Mr. Ellington who is battling with his conscience over "The Howling Man". And John Q. Smith stuns as Brother Jerome as he turns in a performance that is equal part hilarious and gripping. James Weidman gives a thrilling portrayal of a man desperately trying to save his own life and escape his past. And Buddy Mahoney gives a deliciously malevolent and beautifully subtle performance complete with an amazing maniacal laugh as the Commissar out to take down his prey with finesse. Daniel Christensen and Heather Gautschi are adorable as the meek co-workers dealing with Mr. Poole's newfound telepathy. And Weidman and Mahoney show off their versatility as they switch over to adulterous blowhard and gentle old soul in the final vignette. And of course this is all tied together by our guide through the outer world (and director of the show), Tim Moore with his spot on and hysterical Rod Serling.
With their usual sparse set, Schmeater once again proves you don't need much to tell a good story. But I do need to give special kudos to Lighting Designer Dave Baldwin for a wickedly brilliant lighting effect in the first episode. I won't give it away but I will say it was totally cool! But then, that's really the best way to sum up what Theater Schmeater's "Twilight Zone: Live!" episodes are. Totally cool!
"The Twilight Zone: Live!" from Theater Schmeater performs at ACT Theatre's Bullitt Cabaret through April 28th. For tickets or information contact the ACT box office at 206-292-7676 or visit them online at www.acttheatre.org.
Photo credit: D Hastings