This is probably going to be a bit of a long one, but it’s worth it, I think.
So, anyway, on Sunday 30th of November (sorry it’s a bit late) I went to see “The War of the Worlds” in Manchester. Even before the show had started, the crowd’s excitement gave an edge to the atmosphere, prompted by the set which the stage presented. The steam punk style, the array of eerie green beams scanning the audience, the huge martian death machine tucked away in the rafters… It was exactly what we had signed up for.
As you can probably already tell, the set design, along with the costume and props, were fabulous. Every single thing, from the mechanical, fire- breathing, bug- eyed monster, to the delicate paper leaves which rained down onto the audience, in their thousands, during “Forever Autumn” took the show from amazing to awe- inspiring awesome.
If you don’t already know the plot, here’s a quick synopsis: H. G. Wells, the author (well, an actor who plays him) appears on stage in the beginning, explaining what inspired him to write “The War of the Worlds”, which is true, but going on to say how his book was taken as prophecy when the Martians actually did land, which (obviously) is not. The rest of the story is then narrated, first person, by a journalist, who takes us through his version of events and the none too grim things he experienced. The close- calls, relationships between the characters we meet and, at some points, the devastating hopelessness of the situation kept us all utterly immersed in the show.
The actors were incredible. Only 6 were actually live, the rest having been pre- recorded, but those few made the show spectacular. There were two cracking stand- out performances for me: The Parson Nathaniel (Jason Donovan) and his wife, Beth’s (Carrie Hope Fletcher) and the Artilleryman’s (Shane Ward) song, “Brave New World”. The acting and vocals were unparalleled, in my opinion.
I did, however, think that there was an overuse of cinematography, although it was effective in animating parts without lyrics or action, and I would have prefered there to have been a couple more live actors instead of just their recordings. It doesn’t create the same kind of connection to the audience, I don’t think.
Other than that, I feel as though the show went wonderfully. But do you know what really made it? What made it so ridiculously cool? Jeff Wayne. That’s what. The actual composer conducting a live orchestra on stage. Too often are they hidden away in the pit. This musical is all about the music, as it should be. It was showcased perfectly.
I urge you to ge see it whilst you still can, because this is Jeff’s last ever tour and tickets are going, if not gone. Without Jeff Wayne, The War of the Worlds will not be the same, I can guarantee it. And with the amount of applause we gave him at the end, I can certainly say that the rest of the audience would agree wholeheartedly.
Have a great day.