BPREVIEW: The War of the Worlds @ Old Joint Stock Theatre 25-31.10.2017

Words by Lucy Mounfield

Running from Wednesday 25th to Tuesday 31st October, Tin Robot Theatre presents The War of the Worlds at the Old Joint Stock Theatre. For direct event information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

Tin Robot Theatre is a Midlands-based company led by director Adam Carver, who is also an associate of the Old Joint Stock Theatre. Having only been established a few short years, Tin Robot Theatre have already built an impressive back catalogue of adaptations including Anthony Burgess’s infamous A Clockwork Orange, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey and Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Tell-Tale Heart.

It seems only right, then, that they take on H. G. Wells’ science fiction masterpiece The War of the Worlds – the long revered story of an alien invasion from Mars. As a first-person narrative, The War of the Worlds is an intimate and brutal depiction of mental trauma wherein Wells documents the fragmented mind in an uncertain and threatening environment.

Wells wrote the novel in 1898, but The War of the Worlds has since spawned numerous film, television and theatre adaptations; clearly, this story of an alien invasion can be adapted for modern audiences. In 1938, Orson Welles directed and narrated an hour long adaptation of the novel – broadcast as a Halloween Special on CBS in America, as part of the station’s drama anthology The Mercury Theatre on the Air. The broadcast was so powerful that many listeners, reportedly, believed the news bulletin format to be real and that Earth was indeed under attack from Martians.

Then in 1978, Jeff Wayne released his concept album based on the book, Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, which proved to be a phenomenal success – selling millions of albums across the world and spawning a long running musical production.

In 2005, the Tom Cruise film adaptation utilised an enormous blockbuster budget to create the massive alien tripods and terrifying invasion scenes. However, the Hollywood penchant for dizzying CGI did not always push the story forward; we saw the conflict in minute detail, but the silver screen protagonist lacked the emotional range that Wells imbued his original central character with.

So, what can Tin Robot Theatre bring to this canon of invasion stories? Adam Carver, the director of the Midlands based company, offers a self-assured statement on his website:

‘Our work is about challenging expectations, and rethinking adaptation. We believe in story, and champion the stories of Others; our work has focused on identity (in its many guises), its construction, and relation to popular and dominant culture. We make “full-fat” theatre. We believe in theatre as an experience beginning the moment the audience arrives, transforming space and bringing our distinctive visual style to breathe new life into the familiar.’

Producing such an expansive and explosive piece in the Old Joint Stock’s relatively small theatre space may be a hard task. But great theatre often utilises the audience’s imagination, and this is something Tin Robot Theatre are seemingly adept at doing.

As well as a visual transformation of the space, the production will utilise an ‘interactive soundscape’ to create a sense of scale. From music to the sound of the Earth’s frequency, Tin Robot Theatre’s production of The War of the Worlds promises to attack many of our senses whilst immersing us into the terrifying world of an alien invasion.

Tin Robot Theatre presents The War of the Worlds, running at the Old Joint Stock Theatre from 25th to 31st October. For direct event information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

For more on Tin Robot Theatre, visit www.adamgcarver.com/theatre/tin-robot-theatre/

For more from the Old Joint Stock, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.oldjointstock.co.uk