Whoosh with our heat ray

Is it me or is LiveJournal slower than a broke-legged donkey this evening?

We’re listening to a broadcast that was made recently from Middlesborough to commemorate the anniversary of the famous Orson Welles radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, the one caused at least limited panic when originally broadcast.  (I’ve always been a little bit sceptical of the alleged panic caused by the original, given that it was clearly billed up front as a play and that midway through it switches from a realistic radio broadcast to a much more stilted and theatrical diary format.  Apparently large numbers of people tuned in late and were swept up in the apparent realism of the early sequences.)

The new version was staged in front of a live audience and broadcast simultaneously on local radio frequencies.  It was produced as part of the AV Festival 08.  Essentially it’s a new production using the original script, but substituting North-East landmarks and actors for the original U.S. ones (themselves transplanted from the London locations of the novel).  It’s a surprisingly effective production. In some places (for example an interview with a local farmer played by comedy actor Mark Benton) the dialogue has been tweaked to Tyneside idiom, but based on my recollection of the original the remainder of the script sounds pretty much identical.  The complete faithfulness is a slight shame as the style of radio broadcasting has changed markedly since the 1930s and the slightly formalised manner of addressing the audience takes away from the very immediacy that was the point of the original.  I’d have preferred a more sweeping re-write to accommodate modern journalistic language.  That said, some of the theatricality of the rather detailed and flowery radio commentary was present in the original as well, and the performances go a long way to contemporising the production.  It’s an extremely professional and impressive staging of the script, every bit the equal of the original.

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