Martian invasion … in Somerville??

I’ve been meaning to post a quick review of the show I saw randomly a couple of weeks ago. I was somewhat intrigued by the premise, which was a staged version of Orson Welles’ radio version of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. The production actually consisted of three acts. The first was “The Frank Cyrano Byfar Hour”, a “lost classic from Boston’s radio history” that in its quaint geniality had a rather Garrison Keillor sort of feel, while the second was an adapted version of the radio play that shifts the setting to the Boston area while at the same time intertwining an original story about a group of mobsters reacting to what they hear. The third expands the original story and focuses on the Martians’ reign over Boston before the not-so-surprising ending.

I’m not going to spill too much digital ink on my particular thoughts since I came across the blog entry of someone who’s done an admirable job recapping the show in depth. I agree with most of what he said, including the fun of watching the foley (i.e. live sound effects) artists, the sometimes chilling moments of the second act, and the fact the production was slightly overly long as a whole. In that post the co-writer of the War of the Worlds section also comments on the ship sequence, which was apparently not included in the original Orson Welles production but was one of the highlights of this production. That scene and several other great moments like the first encounter with the Martians at their landing site served as wonderful reminders of the power of one’s own imagination and how a book can still have more visceral impact than even the most lavishly produced movie.

I came across this post from the writer of the first act in which he comments on the difficulties of editing the script, and Boston.com ran a preview of the show. I found the text of the original radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds here. The website of the production is here, and the website of the group is here. Apparently they have some recordings and some clips on YouTube. I came in a skeptic, but I’m sufficiently intrigued that I’ll have to dig through some of their archive. The War of the Worlds is such a classic, though, that it’ll be interesting to see what they tackle next.

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