It’s always a delight to see one of Rod Serling’s creative and entertaining science fiction/fantasy television episodes on the original “Twilight Zone.” So it was with anticipation that I arrived at Theatre 40 to see two of Rod Serling’s stories onstage. And I can assure you that I was not disappointed.
The genius of the short play – a potent eye blink – and an innovator in early television, Rod Serling has written stories which will never grow old – even though his original creations were written in the 1950’s and 1960’s. For, by the age of 50, he died leaving a rich heritage of television and cinematic drama behind: “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” “Patterns,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Seven Days in May” – to name but a few of his contributions. Perhaps the jewel in his TV crown was the series “Twilight Zone,” which continues to air today.
Adapted and co-directed by the talented Jeff G. Rack, ROD SERLING’S STORIES FROM THE ZONE captures the naively wonderful world of Serling to a tee. In fact, Jeff Rack doubles as narrator Serling in the two offerings for the evening: “Mr. Garrity and the Graves” and “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up.” Both fantastic tales are brought to life by a cast of 13: Mark Bate, John Wallace Combs, Yancey Dunham, Harry Herman, Richard Large, Meghan Lloyd, Brianna Parcel, Brian David Pope, Philip Sokoloff, Jeffrey Winner, Toni Trenton, Charlie Mount (co-director), and Roger K. Weiss (assistant director). Given the nature of the tales, one wonders if the magic number 13 was accidental.
“Mr. Garrity and the Graves” asks a simple question: Can the dead be resurrected? The answer may surprise you. “Will the Real Martin Please Stand Up” gets into the controversy about UFO’s – and more. Both will entertain and serve as reminders that Rod Serling really was a master of his craft. Neither allows for a dull moment, and both will keep the audience glued to the edge of their seats. They are eerie – and also lots of fun.
It is impossible to speak about this presentation without offering kudos to Gabriael Griego, in charge of video design; Shon LeBlanc, a master of costume design; Charlie Mount, for a Twilight Zone poster extraordinaire; and, of course, direction by Jeff G. Rack and Charlie Mount. The entire production team should take a bow for excellent set design which was quickly and effectively switched around during a brief intermission.