Accessibly Live Off-Line Review: STORIES FROM THE ZONE are “tales to astonish”

Theatre 40 presents for its alternate program, ROD SERLING’S STORIES FROM THE ZONE, a pair of staged tales to astonish taken from Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone TV series.

The first saga, Mr. Garrity and the Graves takes place in the Arizona territory post of Happiness c.1890. A mysterious stranger arrives in this community who claims he can bring back the dead. The townsfolk at first find this man holding a questionable talent. But when they become convinced upon seeing a dead dog brought back to life, they take upon his offer, only to realize that those buried at boot hill should remain where they are, and pay this stranger handsomely to keep them where they belong–dead!

The second entry, Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?, takes place in a rural isolated area. There’s been a report of some kind of object falling from the sky. A pair of state troopers visit a nearby diner to investigate where a bus loaded with passengers has just arrived. The bus driver knows he had six passengers aboard. But there are actually seven that departed the bus. Is one of these passengers an alien from another world in disguise?

These two stories, written by Rod Serling and adapted for the stage by Jeff G. Rack, are short pieces that fall between fantasy and science fiction with a narrative that is in line to an O. Henry scenario, complete with a surprising climax! A cast of performers that feature Mark Bate, John W. Combs, Yancey Durham, Henry Herman, Richard Large, Meghan Lloyd, Brianna Parcel, Brian Pope, Phillip Sokoloff, Toni Trenton, and Jeffrey Winner appear in both productions performing in repertory. Jeff Rack, director of “Martian”, appears as the narrator of these two short stories. Charles Mount directs “Mr. Garrity”, and Mr. Rack once again designs all of the sets.

The Twilight Zone has been called upon as one of the best recalled and most beloved TV series that have been part of the domestic video landscape for the past sixty years, and is one of the few forms of television that refuse to die! It’s been revised twice with new stories, and is subject to yet another revival! But the original run, with Serling writing a good number of these tales, had been part of repeats, marathon showings, and in today’s video landscape, the subject of binge viewing that keeps those tuning in coming back!

This program may become the first of a possible series of additional Serling penned T-Zone tales appearing on stage. There’s a lot more of these mini-epics to showcase culled from the dimension of sound, sight, and a state of mind that fall between shadow and light. Just look for the signpost up ahead…