The War of the Worlds Anniversary Broadcast

Sci-fi classic entertains through the ages 

By Narelle Wood

The most infamous Halloween prank takes the stage as part re-creation of the original radio play, part ’70s rock opera and part exploration of behind the scenes.

There are multiple stories to tell here. The first is The War of the Worlds originally by H.G. Wells which sees Martians invade earth and obliterate every human in sight. The second, and perhaps more famous story is that of the 1938 Halloween performance of the radio adaptation which was directed by Orson Welles and resulted in widespread panic as listeners reportedly believed that Martians were in fact attacking America. Fast forward 40 years and Jeff Wayne launches his musical adaptation of The War of the Worlds, which has gone on to sell millions of copies worldwide.

In this iteration Rob Lloyd and David Innes of Innes Lloyd comedy duo bounce between snippets of the radio play, interesting facts, quotes from Wells and Welles’ only meeting and musical interludes from Wayne’s interpretation arranged for this performance by Caleb Garfinkel. In the process they dispel a few myths, clarifying what exactly ‘wide spread panic’ entailed. But the intrigue is only heightened by Innes Lloyd’s ability to recreate the eerie atmosphere of the 1938 radio broadcast.

You don’t have to dig very far to discover the background facts that are littered throughout the show, but there were many oohs and ahs elicited from the large crowd.  What I found most fascinating though was how much the combination of widespread panic and essentially fake news are both still very relevant today; this was perhaps highlighted by the way in which Innes Lloyd moved between and entwined all the different stories. The movement between some of the segments is a little clunky and sometimes it was a little hard to remember who was who with so many character changes. However, this doesn’t distract from the clear passion that Innes Lloyd bring to these stories.

It would be a shame for The War of the Worlds Anniversary Broadcast not to be an annual event, as there is just so much to like about the original stories and this new retelling.

The War of the Worlds Anniversary Braodcast was performed 29 October at the Butterfly Club. See here for information about Innes Lloyd. 

Photograph: supplied