Monday, 22 February 2016

THREE star review of Jeff Wayne's The War of The Worlds

THE opening bars of The War Of The Worlds still has the power to send shivers down my spine and give me goosebumps.
Nearly 40 years after Jeff Wayne wrote the music for what was to become a blockbuster of a double album, it still holds its own.
Dramatic, instantly recognisable and with the ability to become locked in your brain it sounds as fresh now as it did when it was first released.
The album spawned a stage show which has been performed around the world for many years and over that time Wayne has tweaked it every now and again.
It was last in the capital at the 02 in Greenwich about 18 months ago and has now arrived back in London for a stint at the Dominon Theatre and it is quite an experience.
Loud, bonkers and totally OTT it is part prog rock concert and part musical. It is based on the science fiction book of the same name by HG Wells which was written in 1897 and was considered ahead of its time because of its content.
Wayne’s musical version tells the story of the Martian invasion of England from the Journalist's perspective.
We see how the Martians invade and wreak havoc with their killing machines, ray guns and red weeds and how the people try and fail to stem the tide of death and destruction before – spoiler alert – the Martians die of bacterial infections.
Wayne uses an orchestra of strings combined with a rock band which play live on the stage conducted by the great man himself.
What’s odd about the show is that given the amount of time that has elapsed since he wrote it he hasn’t found a way for the actors to be given something to do when there is no singing, just music.
Instead there is much running across the stage or staring out into the middle distance and it looks a bit awkward.
However there is much to recommend the show. It’s gloriously cheesy – at times the cheese factor is approaching Christmas stilton – with pyrotechnics, sound effects, zip wires, people dressed as red weeds who writhe around the stage, moving podiums on which the musicians play and even a towering tripod with smoke and huge green bug eyes which comes lumbering in and across the stage at various points.
There are also projections, film footage and a hologram of Liam Neeson who plays the Journalist. He appears on a screen which comes down from the top of the stage and then goes back up before distractingly coming down again 30 seconds later. This bobbing up and down continues for the entire show.
There are some good performances from the likes of David Essex, Michael Praed, Jimmy Nail and Madalena Alberto but their characters aren’t developed fully which is a shame and as a result they only really have one song each.
But of course the star of the show is the music and it’s still as striking, catchy, brilliant and amazing as it was when it was first written.
In fact it is like an earworm stubbornly refusing to leave my brain. For those who love the music this production will be a sure fire winner.

War Of The Worlds is on at the Dominion Theatre until Saturday, April 30. Tickets from £29. Visit or call the box office on 0845 200 7982.

No comments:

Post a Comment