War of the Worlds

October 19-23

War of the Worlds

https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on/the-war-of-the-worlds


Reviewed for North West End: www.northwestend.co.uk

 

4*

What a tangled web we weave, especially these days when the Internet ensures all kinds of information reach the parts that other sources can’t get to. Fake news can make people belligerent or else scare them out of their wits, just as it did with the broadcast of ‘War of the Worlds’ years ago.

 

Rhum and Clay, with Isley Lynn, proudly present their version of events, each cast member, pipe in hand, narrating as the multi talented and multi faceted Orson Welles. And on the starkest of sets, designed by Bethany Wells, there’s nowt but a cumbersome old wireless, soundproof mesh walls with doors inset, and a radio studio at the back, but oh my, the lovely attention to detail: two dear little lamps like miniature spaceships, All brought to life by the Lighting Designers, Nick Flintoff and Pete Maxey, as well as Sound Designer, Ben Grant,
   Talking of space. plenty of room to manoeuvre for the cast, exquisitely choreographed into perfect unison as well as morphing, fluidly and fluently, into a variety of characters – and dogs. Their American accents are spot on, whatever state they happen to be in, emotional as well as geographical. Another lovely touch: flashbacks indicated by slow motion rewind mode.
   The action is constantly switching back and forth, but here’s the thing.. that notorious broadcast frightened some people into running away (or was that itself fake news, h’mm?) but apparently, in one family, the parents actually take their son away, abandoning their daughter? In 2016, Meena, a podcaster, is so intrigued, she leaves London to investigate. What she uncovers is far more sinister, raising many problematic questions about what is true, what is untrue, and what is manipulated to appear true. Is it our duty always to reveal the truth? And is it our fault if people believe the lies being spread?
   Jess Mabel Jone is the intrepid yet needy reporter diligently engaged in research who finds herself having to resort to underhand means. Meanwhile, Julian Spooner Is a regular Janus (or is he?), as an exploitative boss and a sceptical, scornful blogger. As for Gina Isaac and Matt Wells, their roles are never better than cynical wife and credulous husband, then more poignantly, family on the point of reconciliation, although, and a quibble, immediately following up with roles as technicians did have me a touch confused.
   It was nonetheless, extremely pleasing that this tale had some kind of resolution rather than being overlooked in the greater scheme of things as is sometimes the case. There was a story to tell (authentic? Who knows), and two sides to it so that you start out with your sympathies all on the one side only to start wondering when you hear more.
   And there were certainly lessons to be learned, all of which had greater impact because rather than preaching, they were delivered with intrepid wit and ingenuity. Absolutely unmissable, this will have you agog to find out what on earth the company will come up with next. Theatre at its most thoughtful, as my companion declared: intelligent, educational and extremely entertaining… genuinely.

 

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