Review: Nightmare At 20,000 Feet

Mark Metaphor’s latest show centres upon the late great Richard Matheson’s classic titular short story, first published in 1961, filmed straight-ish twice and parodied, riffed upon and ripped-off ever since.

Metaphor appears alone onstage and begins with a few choice words on Matheson himself. He briefly mentions his once-filmed Duel and often-filmed I Am Legend, his towering status in the realms of fantastic literature and how his literary Nightmare compares to the filmings, and then begins a from-memory reading of the entire tale (no mean feat as it’s a fair few thousand words long).

The screen alongside him plays a silent montage of the two mostly faithful film versions (with William Shatner in the original 1963 Twilight Zone episode and John Lithgow in the final chapter of the 1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie) intercut with spirited send-ups, the most notable of which was, of course, The Simpsons episode Terror At 5 ½ Feet (from the fourth Treehouse Of Horror).

It is interesting to note where the audience laughs: there are pleasant giggles of recognition at The Simpsons footage and a chortle or two at the big, sweaty close-ups of William and John, while the hoots at the sight of the monster in the original Twilight Zone episode (a sort of goofy, sneering Bigfoot) almost drown out Metaphor, who has to pause dramatically a few times (but with a smile).

A most enjoyable free show, this is definitely the work of a passionate movie/sci-fi/horror buff who actually reads books too.

Nightmare At 20,000 Feet was performed at the Crown & Anchor Hotel on Friday, February 16, with its final performance was on Sunday, February 18.

Adelaide In-depth

Get the latest stories, insights and exclusive giveaways delivered straight to your inbox every week.