REVIEW: The War of the Worlds – Orson Welles adaptation

Posted on November 5, 2013


Back when I was age 10 in Grade Five at Kangaroo Flat Primary School, there was a small bookshelf outside our classroom. And on those shelves I found a copy of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. What inquisitive (precocious?), book-mad boy could resist the lure of a title like that? As far as I can recall this was the my first science fiction book I read.  And I have read it many times since.

I was also intrigued to learn of the Orson Welles Americanised adaptation of The War of the Worlds into a radio drama, broadcast in 1938. The reality of the style taken by Welles etc was such that it produced a wave of panic with a growing number people believing there really was an invasion by the Martians. But I had never come across a copy of that Welles dramatisation of Wells.

Until now.

the_war_of_the_worlds-300x300I recently came across this redoing of the Welles version, featuring Leornard Nimoy in the lead along with assistance from Brent Spiner, and Gates McFadden – talk about Trekkie Heaven – courtesy of L.A. Theatre Works.

I loved it! And it is easier to understand just now the Welles version caused that panic, given the presentation of a significant portion of it as ‘news flashes’.

Equally intriguing was listening to a Q&A session with Nimoy, recorded immediately after presentation of the show on stage. And no, it wasn’t just facile junk about what it was like to wear his pointy ears.

I do not always have the patience to listen to audio books but this was a real performance. With my earphones firmly plugged in as I wandered around town, I found myself so caught up in it I wandered way off track of where I was supposed to be. Not a huge sacrifice in the circumstances.

Highly recommended!

Posted in: Review