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Photo: Marc Brenner

OTHER REVIEW: The Twilight Zone

December 14, 2017:

LONDON — If ever it felt appropriate to revisit “The Twilight Zone,” that moment is now. We live in strange, disorienting times, but without a Rod Serling, the debonair mastermind behind the CBS television series, to set the scene for us as he did so trenchantly more than 50 years ago.

So you can practically hear a collective purr of delight when those famous four opening notes of the series’s theme song are heard at the very end of the American writer Anne Washburn’s stage adaptation of “The Twilight Zone,” which opened Tuesday at the Almeida Theater in north London (through Jan. 27).

What an audience will make of the preceding two and a half hours may depend on its willingness to let a sermon invade the spook house. There was nearly always a civilizing message of sorts underpinning each episode in the TV series, which referenced other realms to say something about the troublesome one inhabited by humans.

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MOST RECENT REVIEWS

OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Cruel Intentions

December 11, 2017:

It’s no “Clueless,” but “Cruel Intentions” has endured better than most 1990s teen movies. Partly this has to do with its cast, especially Reese Witherspoon, just as good playing saintly as she would be ruthless in “Election” a couple of months later. But what really made Roger Kumble’s film stand out were the timeless structure and timely embroideries: a fail-safe plot based on the 18th-century novel “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” combined with an arch ’90s sensibility and an inspired soundtrack — the denouement, set to the Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” was worthy of Scorsese.

That the film would get the stage treatment isn’t all that surprising, but as its title implies, the nostalgia-fueled “Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical Experience” isn’t a traditional tuner, even by jukebox standards.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: The Children

December 12, 2017:

First the earthquake. Then the tsunami. Then the nuclear reactor shuts down when the tidal wave reaches its seaside dome. But not to worry. That’s why they have emergency generators.

In the basement.

Putting emergency generators where floodwaters can quickly render them useless sounds like a design mistake only a polemical (or satirical) playwright would invent. But part of the horror of “The Children,” which opened on Tuesday at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, is that the author, Lucy Kirkwood, did not dream up that part of the plot. Pretty much the same chain of events caused the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk

December 11, 2017:

America has an acute case of Anglophilia, but it’s a highly selective one. We love “Downton Abbey,” Shakespeare and John Oliver but studiously ignore prawn-cocktail-flavored crisps, Cliff Richard and pantomime. The new Off Broadway show “Jack and the Beanstalk,” presented at the Abrons Arts Center, may help rectify the situation regarding panto, a vaudeville-derived, proudly lowbrow genre that happily endorses an anything-goes approach.

In Britain, pantos are beloved Christmas staples delighting children and adults alike thanks to a cartoonish mix of slapstick, drag, clowning, recycled pop songs, groan-inducing puns and active audience participation; suggestive double entendres are also included for the parents’ benefit.

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Glass Guignol

December 11, 2017:

Blow out your candles, Laura. And close your eyes. You might not want to see this.

“Glass Guignol: The Brother and Sister Play” sutures together several of Tennessee Williams’s dramas, using his relationship with his sister, Rose Williams, as the thread. The first production at Mabou Mines’ purpose-built theater in the East Village, it is a Southern Gothic creation, minus the Southern — part literary exegesis, part horror show, part psychotherapy session. With gorillas.

In childhood, Tennessee and Rose enjoyed what their mother called a “wild intimacy,” but the bond frayed in adolescence as Rose’s behavior grew more erratic. After she threatened to kill her father, she was committed to a mental institution where she received a diagnosis of schizophrenia and later underwent, to Tennessee’s enduring guilt, a bilateral prefrontal lobotomy.

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