Sunday, February 19, 2017

Applause! Applause! Review of A Fifth Dimension: An Unauthorized Twilight Zone Parody at The Kraine Theater by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of A Fifth Dimension: An Unauthorized Twilight Zone Parody at The Kraine Theater was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 7 (2017) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

A Fifth Dimension: An Unauthorized Twilight Zone Parody
Written & Directed by Genny Yosco
Costuming by Chris Weigandt
The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street
New York, New York 10003
Reviewed 2/15/17

"There is a fifth dimension, unknown to most of mankind. It is a dimension of sight, sound, and time. The middle ground between daylight and dusk, between fact and fiction, and it lies between your vast knowledge of all things real, and your childhood phobias long forgotten. This is the dimension of creativity, and often of creation itself. It is an area which we call...the Twilight Zone" says Bryan Songy, who acts as Narrator of A Fifth Dimension: An Unauthorized Twilight Zone Parody, which features eight scenes based off of iconic Twilight Zone episodes. If you not a fan of the television series, you will particularly enjoy this play because it will expose you to interesting and thought-provoking plots containing insightful social commentary. If you are a loyal fan of Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone, you will appreciate the talent of the actors but will be left longing for more clever writing. Too many of the stories are recreated on stage, perhaps with different dialogue, but without significantly altering the underlying story in a manner that would make it a parody. Many of the stories are re-told too literally with the exception of  Time Now, based on the original episode called Time Enough At Last, which starred Burgess Meredith in a post-apocalyptic world who finally has the time to read in peace and quiet before, accidentally, breaking his reading glasses. I am sorry, where are my manners? Would you like a glass of Instant Smile?

In any case, in Time Now, Burgess Henry (played by Matthew Preston), the bookworm, introvert, and lone survivor of the atomic blast, has finally settled down ready to read every book in the world. He hears a noise and hopes its a dog, who can be his loyal companion and help him to hunt for food. It turns out the noise is coming from Meredith (played by Hannah Eakin), who also survived the recent nuclear Armageddon. She responds, "Right, sorry, not a dog. But before the blast, my friends said I could be quite the bitch!" Meredith doesn't like reading and immediately suggests that they might, in time, consider repopulating the planet. This suggestion horrifies Burgess, who absolutely hates people, especially "a wife nagging me to get my head out of my books." Meredith feeds into his fear by saying, "Oh, I don't need books! Now I've met you, and neither of us has to spend a lonely day or night alone with a book again. We can just talk and talk all day long! I want to know all about your life, and who you were before the blast, and how you survived, and everything!" Well, what was Meredith to do? He snaps her neck and kills her for food. He didn't even need to give her an overdose of Instant Smile, either. He proceeds to go on a rant, "Women! They're so trusting. I'll never understand it. What makes them so...NEEDY when it comes to human attention? Honestly, this is the third one this month that I've had to get rid of. And this one was the worst, I swear." And, finally, as you might have guessed, he proceeds to break his reading glasses while trying to move Meredith's dead body.

This clever parody was somewhat absent from the remaining stories. In Don't Be Such A Dummy, Sandra Robertson (Genny Yosco) is competing in the Miss Galactic Pageant (Presented by Instant Smile!) with Joe King (Mitchell Cetuk), her crass dummy, who eventually comes to life and takes her place in the act. In A Good Thing, Jack Frost, the Delivery Man in Bixby, Idaho, has brought some extra Instant Smile for Mrs. Mumy (Hannah Eakin) and a special gift for Billy Mumy (Adison Eisenberg), the child who has been wreaking havoc on the town for years, turning Mrs. Leachman (Amanda Stafford) and others into animals to play with and unearthing his grandmother so she can sing to him whenever he gets the whim to hear her. At a surprise birthday party for Mr. Keefer (Zachary Millard), whose daughter Billy killed, a better prop should have been found to stand in for the golden heart-shaped locket he was supposed to have received as a gift. In Super Sophie, Sophia Foray (Adison Eisenberg) needs protection from her abusive and demanding stepfather Jerry (Matthew Preston) who barks at his wife Christie, telling her, "Now be a good girl and get dinner ready - and get me a glass of Instant Smile while you're at it, this kid of yours is driving me up a wall." Super Sophie, who hates bad guys, comes to the rescue eventually exhibiting her Girl Power by defeating "the evil Jerry Stratford" so Sophia "can live a happy life" (protected by a switchblade knife she's not hesitant to use).

In Just Like You, it is time for Miranda's "transformation" but she is hesitant to choose a model because she is happy with who she is and suspects that recent "adjustments" may have an impact on her emotions as well as her physical beauty. Miranda (Amanda Stafford) is encouraged by her mother Diana (Chris Weigandt) to proceed with the operation and the Nurse/Barb (Genny Yosco), Dr. Randy/Dr. Friend (Zachary Millard) encourage her to do the same while Diana asks Nurse #23 for "one glass of Instant Smile, please." Despite her father's past objections to the procedure and eventual suicide (he thought "these transformations were an insult to the dignity of the human spirit" and "the world needs ugliness in order for there to be beauty in the first place"), Miranda is pressured to proceed and, in the end, joins the chorus of people who say, "I am pretty, I am fun, I am all, and all is one!". In Pretty/Ugly, Donna Stuart (Genny Yosco) is undergoing reconstructive surgery in a world where "anyone who is considered to be different from the norm is found to be breaking the law just by existing." Dr. Hormel (Mitchell Cetuk) is offering the state a non-kill option, and with the help of Smith Tyler (Zachary Millard) and over the objections of his Nurses, he tries to convince Donna to go into exile. Dr. Hormel, whose name is funnier after you see him, offers Donna a glass of Instant Smile before he takes off her bandages but she rejects it. In Serving The Human, the translated book (entitled To Serve Man - written by Kanamits - in the television episode) is still a cookbook, but here one of The Hollow Men (Matthew Preston) shows up to confront the translators, Damon (Mitchell Cetuk) and Diana (Chris Weigandt), regarding their doubts. The result is the same and they get an expedited visit to the Hollow Men's home world. Since we humans are to be a food source, we now understand their "gifts" of curing disease and putting an end to war. In the short time they've been on the planet, "they've almost completely eliminated the need for Instant Smile - although the people over at Instant Smile aren't exactly happy about that!"

The entire cast, including the two dolls who got their own seats, are featured in the final scene, No One Is Safe, in which Matthew Preston plays both the William Shatner character and the Gremlin. The Narrator ominously warns us that "we are on quite a peculiar plane" and that "a variety of characters are held on this very aircraft, all leaving from and going to the same destination." The flight attendants offer the passengers, "Hot or cold drinks, as well as snacks. Alcoholic drinks and Instant Smile are also available with our compliments." The airline passengers are told to "sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight." That is also my advice to audience members attending A Fifth Dimension: An Unauthorized Twilight Zone Parody. The actors are top-notch, especially Adison Eisenberg, who played both Billy Mumy and Sofia so convincingly that audience members were questioning where the boy was at the curtain call. The writing does leave something to be desired but you will still find this entry in the 2017 Frigid Festival to be entertaining and well worth the effort to catch. At the end of the show, the cast appears and individually adds a line to the following familiar passage, "There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known by man. A dimension as vast as space, and as timeless as infinity. You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is the middle ground, between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. The signpost up ahead signals your next stop" to which the Narrator added "Where no one is safe." and everyone responded, "Here, in the Twilight Zone." 

A Fifth Dimension: An Unauthorized Twilight Zone Parody plays at The Kraine Theater on Monday, February 20th at 8:50 p.m., on Tuesday, February 21st at 8:50 p.m., on Sunday, February 26th at 6:50 p.m. and on Saturday, March 4th at 6:40 p.m. Tickets cost $15.00 ($11.00 for students, seniors, and military with identification). You can also memorize and recite an opening narration from any Twilight Zone episode for a $5.00 ticket. You can make reservations online at or purchase them at The Kraine Theater's box office, where they do not, unfortunately, sell Instant Smile. 

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