“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one,” He said. So I responded, “The chances of a ticket coming from Boxoffice.co.uk are certainly the one, my blog said”.
Treated to witness Jeff Wayne’s version of The War of the Worlds at The Dominion Theatre, I cancelled my evening plans and rose from my sick bed to see this musical masterpiece. With the potential to cause mass panic, The War of the Worlds has great state of cause and effect behind its literary birth and radio broadcast. It’s a scaremonger of a story!
Satisfying an intrigued mind, my big question: “how do you stage world destruction?” Pretending to be a big sci-fi nerd, I’m afraid I fail at writing a proper historical back story for The War of the Worlds, but I urge you to go fetch on the internet though!
“Featuring a stellar cast, Jeff Wayne’s global music phenomenon is reimagined and brought to spectacular West End life for its much-anticipated world stage premiere…Also featuring the iconic Martian Fighting Machine, special effects, and a live orchestra conducted on stage by Jeff Wayne”
Loving the live orchestra domination, I was amazed how three quarters of the stage belonged to the instruments and the cast were at the mercy of this giant musical gyroscope. With Jeff Wayne as the Orchestra’s captain, I was instantly booted into a far away galaxy with the addictive screeches of alien techno. Here’s my quick impression (pretty laughable really!)…
“I can only hope that you, our audience, will feel we have produced something emotional, unique and that for some two and half hours you will have enjoyed being immersed in our world, of The War of the Worlds – Alive on Stage!”
Quote from Jeff Wayne from The War of the Worlds Souvenir Programme
Fangirling over the appearance of a Fighting Machine and the Martian’s slimy tentacles, I thought I was watching an episode of Dr Who. Forget the imagination for television, this was a statement for theatre. Watching this mechanical spider walk and set the stage alight (quite literally!), the unbelievable became believable. Terrorising the cast and audience, I gulped at this oversized bug and squinted through its laser beams. No spider catcher or slipper could destroy this beast.
Thanks to Gary McCann, this costume designer screams “You’ve been [steam] punked” at the wardrobe. The War of the World‘sfantastical Victorian Era is spliced to the grungy spit of Steampunk. The dresses are tailored to the women’s silhouettes and the men are time hopped from the battlefield, covered in grime and bloody wounds.
An essence of Les Miserables haunted The Artilleryman’s familiar looking barricade, covered in cogs, as he boasts about his underground civilisation and plans to destroy the Fighting Machines. However, I adored The Artilleryman’s rather catchy song “Brave New World” and wanted him to sing it over and over again…and…over and over again! Unfortunately, Daniel Bedingfield was no show as The Artilleryman (he gotta get through this illness…bad pun), but Simon Shorten stretched those vocal chords to the high heavens.
The War of the Worlds was a visual spectacular, including an impressive cast. David Essex played The Voice of Humanity with less gusto power, but more of a gentle natured heart. Jimmy Nail played Parson Nathaniel, spreading the manic gospel with desperation. Sugarbabes’ Heidi Range played Nathaniel’s wife, Beth, pleading her angelic tune of “The Spirit of Man” to cure her husband’s raging religious obsession. Daniel Bedingfield plays The Artilleryman, who is certainly a good catch for those babes and dudes born into the world of pop music in 2001. Sharing his role with the hologram of Liam Neeson, Michael Praed played the journalist, George Herbert, confidently narrating the desolation and encouraging the audience to follow his brave journey. With a little romance in the air, Madalena Alberto played the journalist’s wife, Carrie, who is separated from her husband and longs for his return.
Personally, The War of the Worlds should be judged as a delightfully yet devastating live concert. This musical doesn’t cater for those who love their plays, but enjoy a dramatic orchestral performance and epic tale of human survival. It’s scary how warfare, survival and fear still remain relevant today. Watching the families separated from their loved ones, these scenes resurface the many tragic events which continue to dominate our media and society. Thanks to the red weed dance routine, this moment spoke the “Keep Calm and Carry On” motto, but also held a moment for pause and reflection before full steam ahead into action.
Having the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be confronted with the Daddy of all robots, I trembled with fear and excitement. Like a little fly trapped in the Dominion’s web, I stood no chance, but to have the life sucked out of my being and spun around in the Sci-Fi’s tumble theatre dryer. The War of the Worlds is one mean fighting machine…but if I survived so can you!
Big thanks to Carly from BoxOffice.co.uk
Buy your tickets to see The War of the Worlds here. Ends 30 April 2016.