THE TWILITE-LIKE ZONE, Free Associates, at the Royal George Theatre Center. Improvised parodies of television shows or movies–like the Free Associates’ takeoff on Tolkien, Frodo a-Go-Go–are often difficult to pull off. The improvisers must not only create an entertaining story but re-create familiar characters–and if they fall flat, so does the show. But this spoof of Rod Serling’s spooky 1960s series The Twilight Zone, whose characters changed every week, only needs to be true to the original’s chilling, moralistic tone. And the Free Associates do this beautifully.

Under Robyn Okrant’s direction, the cast smoothly balanced laughs with plot twists: they were not only blisteringly funny but created a cohesive story that climaxed in a creepy ending. There wasn’t quite the emotional kick of a real Twilight Zone episode, and some seemingly important threads got lost–but then again, this was unscripted. Every night a cast member takes one audience member’s name and another audience member’s occupation. With a few more suggestions, the cast the night I attended told the story of an ice cream vendor who faces down two evil children. Dori Goldman somehow played the central character both flippantly and earnestly, as if she were channeling someone she herself thought slightly ridiculous.