Sunday, July 8, 2018


The War Of The Worlds
Radio script by Howard E. Koch from the H.G. Wells novel
Directed by PJ Williams

Based on the novel by Randolph Stow
Adapted by Emma Gibson
Directed by Adam Broinowski

The Street Theatre to 8 July

Reviewed by Len Power 7 July 2018

As part of The Street's Literary Out Loud Series, ‘The War Of The Worlds + Tourmaline Out Loud’ is an interesting and unusual double bill in which classic verse text is married with live performance.

Both productions have fine production values to enrich the atmosphere and engage our imaginations.  Production designs are by Tiffany Abbott with sound design by Kyle Sheedy and lighting design by Linda Buck.  The acting ensemble is Craig Alexander, Breanna Barker, Christopher Samuel Carroll, Ylaria Rogers, Martin Searles and Cameron Thomas.

The War Of the Worlds - Left to Right: Craig Alexander, Ylaria Rogers, Cameron Thomas, Christopher S. Carroll

‘The War Of The Worlds’, directed by PJ Williams, is the notorious radio script by Howard E. Koch that, in a 1938 broadcast by Orson Welles’ ‘Mercury Theatre On The Air’, caused chaos as listeners across America believed it was in fact ‘live news’ and that the reports of aliens attacking US cities were real.

The War Of The Worlds - Cameron Thomas

It’s easy to see how people were fooled by it at the time.  Told in bulletins cutting into a typical evening’s radio program of dance music, the increasing reports of horror and destruction are quite alarming.

Watching the actors in this production performing the play in a recording studio with complex sound effects created live is quite absorbing.  Everyone in the ensemble cast gives strong and believable performances and the direction by PJ Williams is excellent.

‘Tourmaline’, adapted by Canberra’s Emma Gibson from the Australian 1963 novel by Randolph Stow is more a staged reading with costumes and some projected images.  Sound effects are performed by the cast and sound engineer, Kyle Sheedy, in view of the audience as in a radio station.

Tourmaline - Left to Right: Cameron Thomas, Martin Searles, Breanna Barker, Craig S. Thomas

A mystical tale of a played out remote gold mining settlement in the outback where there is no water, no children and hope is fading, it explores our relationship with the Australian landscape.

Tourmaline - Breanna Barker, Martin Searles

There’s good writing here by Emma Gibson but we need more background to be able to engage with the characters and a number of dialogue sequences seem overlong and obscure.  Maybe it would work better just as a radio play or if it was fully-staged.  This production was somewhere in between, which may have made it not quite as effective as the work has the potential to be.  There’s good acting by most of the same ensemble cast from ‘The War Of The Worlds’, the creative sound effects are nicely done and it’s well directed by Adam Broinowski.

Photos by Shelly Higgs

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast in his ‘On Stage’ performing arts radio program on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3.30pm on Artsound FM 92.7.