The War of the Worlds (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

The War of the Worlds

A smart, slick adaptation of the sci-fi classic and so much more

In their adaptation of H.G Wells' The War of the Worlds Rhum and Clay have taken inspiration not from the Tom Cruise blockbuster but from the adaptation for radio by Orson Welles, which caused a national panic among the unwitting public. Sidestepping the obvious challenge of putting aliens onstage Isley Lynn's focus on how humans respond to the possibility that there's life out there - whether it's fake news or not. In fact, it feels wrong to call this an adaptation rather than an inventive expansion upon the original story.

Lynn's script weaves together hysterical responses from Welles' 1938 broadcast with a roadtrip across modern America dealing with a new fake news crisis. At points it feels a little dated and towards the end the multiple strands seem impossible to resolve. In the hands of a less inventive company the story could easily fall flat on its face but Julian Spooner and Matt Wells' physical theatre brings dynamism and a cinematic scope to the staging, and they do manage an effective resolution.

In their previous work, Rhum and Clay have proven themselves to be masterful individual and ensemble performers and The War of the Worlds is no exception. There's no weak link in the cast and they're such a well-oiled machine that the technical whirlwind of a show flies by. This is their most ambitious work to date and it's out of this world.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug, 3.20pm, 15:20, £13–£15 (£12–£14).

The War of the Worlds

  • 4 stars

Rhum and Clay in association with the Pleasance 'No-one would have believed in the early years of the twentieth century that this world was being watched…' But we did believe. Written with Isley Lynn (Skin A Cat) and inspired by Orson Welles' radio broadcast, The War of the Worlds explores the ongoing power of fake events…