War of the Worlds Poster copy.jpg

“super-smart, multi-layered”
Lyn's Edinburgh Picks, Stagedoor

“No one would have believed in the early years of the twentieth century
that this world was being watched...” 

But they did believe.

They believed that martians landed in New Jersey. They believed a water tower was an alien war machine. They believed a man walked on the moon. They believed everything the internet trolls told them...

Written in collaboration with playwright Isley Lynn and inspired by Orson Welles' famous radio broadcast and H.G. Wells’ sci-fi novel, The War of the Worlds wrestles with the boundaries of truth in a thrilling broadcast of the end of the world.


New Diorama, London

What makes the show remarkable – big beyond its length, size and means – is the way it builds in the course of the evening, moving through concentric circles of doubt. Who is the real Welles on stage, when there are four pipe-puffing claimants, none of them spherical and not all of them male? Did the broadcast really provoke widespread hysteria? How can we know when our sources of information so often lie to us?
Susannah Clapp

Even the title both tells the truth but also slyly misleads. Because what is under scrutiny here is not just the broadcast and the myths surrounding it, but also the current info wars on the internet.
Tightly scripted by Isley Lynn (who wrote the excellent Skin a Cat) and devised by the company … There is a lot going on in 80 gripping minutes in which there are no less than four Orson Welles, and which constantly questions not just the nature of the truth but how some find the means to exploit it for personal or financial gain. Not to mention, how everyone is committed to their own particular version of the truth. That is very much the case within families where one person's truth is another's myth.
The evening delivers plenty of theatrical punches and plays lightly on the idea of theatre as a lie as it reminds how truth depends on who is telling it and why, how new technologies change the game, and how susceptible we remain to manipulation, particularly at times when the world seems an uncertain and frightening place.
Lyn Gardner

A genuinely excellent play which brilliantly mucks about with objectivity, meaning and media.
Truth, in this play, is a slippery concept … this is a story about fictions, built on fictions, perpetuating fictions. It's simultaneously honest about its disputed source material, and ambiguous with what it all means; the play challenges us to be objective, when its story is anything but. And it ties all this - brilliantly - into an exploration of our post-truth, fake news culture. The play is built around a central conceit: the stories we tell ourselves are central to our worldview. What we choose to believe, where we choose to locate meaning, reinforces who we are, what we stand for. But when does fiction override, or even subjugate fact? When we choose to accept a story on whether it appeals to our instincts, prejudices or opinions, regardless of its basis in fact, how do we discern between truth and lies? When we have leaders and policies that galvanise through fear and divide via suspicion - and the play doesn't obfuscate over where it's aiming these particular thought grenades - how do we engage in meaningful social discourse? What starts off as an amusing amble into a seemingly innocent age of wholesome entertainment quickly becomes a clever discussion of how, where and why we should spend our trust and place our faith. Positioning the original radio play as an artistic factualising of fiction, Rhum and Clay follow the curve of this logic to arrive at the industrial fictionalising of fact.
It's also - and I cannot stress this enough - bags upon bags of fun … The performances are fluid, engaging and amusing, the writing is clear, surprising and resonant. There's plenty to enjoy here, in a show that is as inventive with its theatricality as it is with the notion of truth. The play exploits its dramatic medium as judiciously as Welles did with radio; the entire stage is active, and we never quite know what is coming next, or where from.
Ian Farnell

Photos by The Other Richard

Directed by Hamish McDougall and Julian Spooner
Movement by Matthew Wells
Design by Bethany Wells
Sound Design by Ben Grant
Lighting Design by Nick Flintoff and Pete Maxley
Producer Hannah Tookey

Deft and ingenious … a fast and clever show
Michael Billington

A smart, engagingly layered show that intelligently explores the faith people place in the media and the relationship between facts and the human need to tell stories. Lynn digs into the disinformation industry and the way in which click-driven ‘news’ content is created, the way conspiracy theories spread and mutate, and the effect they can have on people’s worldview and their politics; she also reworks Welles’ broadcast for the iPhone age, with people staring at their devices for updates as news of the invasion spreads.
Natasha Tripney

The overall premise is just juicy – how far does a medium of communication affect our ability to believe a fabrication? If something is tweeted, or published on a seemingly real news site, or played out over the radio, or listened to on a podcast, why are we naturally inclined to trust its accuracy? The show may be more of a war of words than a war of the worlds but it's all the better for it – Liam Neeson can keep his hologram.
Alex Wood

his production could be Donald’s hallucinated fever dream version of A Christmas Carol; it’s a fast-paced tour of fake news of the past, present and future, guided by an otherworldly ensemble of mischievous shapeshifters.
The company, in collaboration with playwright Isley Lynn, do a brilliant job.
Henry Gleaden

Cleverly-worked, entertaining and wholly enjoyable … a polished and inventive reworking of H.G. Wells' original concept providing an intelligent examination of how human beings can (sometimes) willingly set themselves up as 'victims' of fake news and potentially encourage exploitation.
Peter Brown

Both enjoyable and thought-provoking. I’ve often clicked on a headline that screamed out about some exciting and highly improbable story. I consider myself fairly savvy about fake news and I have always believed the stories of mass hysteria and suicides when the play was originally broadcast, but it turns out that may not be as true as I thought and if a simple thing like that turns out to be false then what does that mean for everything else that is presented as news?
Terry Eastham

Joyous to behold … a theatrical experience of such bold acuteness and physical invention it leaves you constantly on the edge of your seat.
It’s a dangerous world out there but this engaging, entertaining and brilliant War of the Worlds couldn’t come at a better time as a reminder to practise caution and scepticism before buying into any hyped up scenario. Required viewing. Don’t miss!
Carole Woddis

this is a smart, physical performance that provokes critical reflection on our need for good stories and the desire for them to be true. … its politics are undeniable. Its call for us to question the news and the stories we absorb, as well as criticising the fake news machine and the ad revenue behind it, combined with compelling staging and polished production values to make this a perfect play for our troubled times.
Laura Kressly

A smart, teasing homage to Orson Welles’s ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast and its legacy … as a smartly ambivalent homage to the golden age of the radio and the part myths play in our lives, it’s a winner.
Andrzej Lukowski

A fine new play invades the New Diorama Theatre. Isley Lynn’s The War of the Worlds takes a deeper look at the famous Orson Welles radio broadcast from 1938 and connects it to what’s happening in the world 80 years later … a gripping edge-of-your-seat atmosphere throughout.
Jim Compton-Hall

An unexpectedly insightful way of exploring contemporary concerns about fake news and political paranoia. Rhum and Clay have successfully given an oft-told story a new sense of relevance … entertaining, insightful, and above all an effective immersion into a sinister and intriguing world – one that is far closer than we think.
Harriet Corke

Slick and otherworldly … As long as there continues to be media, The War of the Worlds will continue to be relevant reminding us all of how we too can be vulnerable to false information.
Roberta Wiafe

Rhum and Clay’s War of the Worlds weaves in and out of different time frames and narratives as if moving the dial on a radio – it’s atmospheric, physical, exciting and disorienting.
Victoria Purcell

Isley Lynn’s play is a clever exploration of the enduring fascination of sci-fi, conspiracy theories and the thin line between imagination and reality. It’s also a salutary warning against the ubiquity of fake news.
The parallels between HG Wells’ classic, Welles’ thrilling adaption and new media are perceptively teased out.
Lucy Popescu

The way that the show subverts expectations and brings into focus the importance of telling people’s own stories – as opposed to ‘what sells’ ­– is as refreshing as it is timely.
Michael davies

You would think a play about a radio broadcast and alien invasion in a small town in the US is irrelevant to our life and times but the play manages to do a fantastic job of bringing this world close to 2019 and our time of fake news, social media and information wars. The medium may have evolved from radio to blogs and podcasting but the basic premise remains the same – information is power and whoever controls the dissemination of information has power. … an effortless watch as well as being a thought provoking one.
Anisha Kohli

Trust me, it’s no fake news to say that you should see this show.
Edward Lukes

North Wall, Oxford

Fact collides with fiction – and we’re never sure which is which – in Rhum & Clay’s bold riff on the classic HG Wells tale The War of the Worlds … This beautifully composed production, featuring just four actors, takes us from that dramatic broadcast to the present day, on the trail of a mystery which divided a family, all dated back to the fateful broadcast. What unfurls is a series of Russian doll-like shells of truths and lies stretching back into time and brought into sharp focus into the present day – with Trump, ‘fake news’ and conspiracy theories. Mona Goodwin, Julian Spooner, Amalia Vitale and Matthew Wells take on all roles in a kinetic display which leaves us reeling. Delivery is punchy and movement beautifully choreographed with dancers’ grace. It is fast-paced and noisy, yet interspersed with moments of uneasy calm and realisation. It’s funny and unsettling and inevitably leaves us questioning our own gullibility. A triumph then, and well worth seeing. Believe me!
Tim Hughes

Pleasance, Edinburgh Fringe ‘19

Masterful and unforgettable
Kate Nora


So well written and authentic, it’s scary! A wonderfully unpredictable, intertwined and original piece of theatre … more than very highly recommended – it’s outstanding theatre making, it is provocative theatre created and performed by an inspired and inspiring ensemble, see it if you can!
Jo Tomalin

Isley Lynn’s script shifts deftly between past and present, England and America in all its various iterations and combinations – from the original radio broadcast to a starkly real Sky News alien invasion. It shows what could have been and what might still be. Did people flee at the original broadcast, or was this yet another example of a fake story, a headline made up to sell more copies? The War Of The Worlds is slippery – layers of narrative float between one other with ease but not confusion. And it provides an insight into the psyche of the fake news writer, too – is it really Welles’ fault if people believed the original broadcast? Whose responsibility is it if people believe fake news? Rhum and Clay’s show isn’t at all preachy or patronising, or even (one or two jabs aside) particularly politically motivated. In fact, what stands out about this interpretation is its refusal to look down upon its audience. It doesn’t ask the obvious questions, or berate the consumption of fake news, but considers the why and the how, the authors behind the stories and how these things unexpectedly snowball together. It’s this subtlety that makes the whole show so unnerving, and by the end, still intentionally perplexing as to who is right. After all, how can anyone possibly know what’s real?
Katherine Knight

The piece draws neat, often humbling, parallels between the convincing use of a news format for the radio production and the impact of fake news in our modern era. It shows the power radio had over the public in its heyday, but suggests that while technology may have progressed since then, as a society, we may not have come as far as we think. An incredibly slick production … Effects are operated from a radio control booth that forms part of the set, an ever-present reminder of the human element that controls the stories that we consume each day. Engaging, witty and thought-provoking, with plenty of theatrical chops to back up Isley Lynn's timely script, this is a highly effective piece of theatre.
Amy Hanson

Click bait and fake news bring War of the Worlds into the 21st century in this powerful, fast paced play. Written by Isley Lynn, it’s a completely engrossing show that jumps timelines and countries with great pace. It’s complete with family issues, ethical moral dilemmas around chasing a story and the lengths we go to get an angle, and the responsibility of the journalist to tell the truth, or to tell a good story. It weaves all of these themes across the late 1930s and now with humour, and the presentation is full of fantastic production values … The show has stuck with me in the days prior to seeing, and it’s selling out for good reasons – it’s engaging, a modern take on a classic story and it pushes the boundaries and makes audiences think on storytelling and truth.
Ellen Burgin

Using an abridged retelling of Orson Welles’ radio drama as a springboard into a contemporary investigation into “a family built on secrets”, writer Isley Lynn together with the collaborative ensemble of Spooner, Jess Mabel Jones, Amalia Vitale and Matthew Wells have created a fascinating mystery which hooks the audience from the off and over the course of 100 engrossing minutes reels them in to join the dots between past and present, truth and fake news. The impressive style of which – bolstered by Bethany Wells’ bare canvas of a radio soundstage, through the gauze walls of which Nick Flintoff and Pete Maxey’s lighting design illuminates the shadows of secrets and silence – meeting the high standards of Spooner’s pushy producer in that it goes in for the jugular, resonates with the now and makes the unique universal. To which I would add: fast-paced, fat-free and “bigly” funny.
Peter Callaghan

This fascinating adaptation is unique, relevant and thought-provoking … Forth at the Pleasance Courtyard was sold out and people, although some not knowing what to really expect, where pleasantly surprised by how sophisticated and well-crafted the performance was. We would all like to think that we would never have been taken in by something so unbelievable but there is something on everyone’s Google search history that proves otherwise. This play explores that with great empathy and speaks to human nature in a way that makes you think. The show forces you take a look at how far we’ve come as a society but how that progress is nothing more than finding new ways to execute the same things that fuel and build the momentum that surrounds these fake events that result in real-life consequences. ‘The War of the Worlds’ is one of a kind and is very much worth heading over to Forth at The Pleasance Courtyard, for an hour and twenty minutes of stimulating theatre with a purpose.
Saskia Calliste

Writer Isley Lynn is making an important point here. If hearts and minds can be so easily manipulated in the name of entertainment, then the same techniques can be (and are being) used for more nefarious purposes. Simply but effectively staged, and convincingly acted by Jess Mabel Jones, Matthew Wells, Julian Spooner and Amalia Vitale, The War of the Worlds is one of those productions that prompts plenty of conversation afterwards … well worth your time and money. And you’ll be discussing it for hours.
Philip Caveney

The War of The Worlds is a warning to us all to always question information given to us and directors Hamish MacDougall and Julian Spooner have with this story written by Isley Lynn found an unusual angle to highlight the dangers to us all from manipulation by unseen people and the agendas that they may be implementing.
Tom King

Writer Isley Lynn has penned an intricate tale of lies, familial strife and underhand political machinations.
Jonny Sweet

Slickly told … Exciting, entertaining and intelligent – that’s a fact.
Kenneth Scott

The story is reinvented for new generations, propaganda without conscience sold as entertainment, the worlds of truth and fiction at war now as they have never been before with the Internet offering direct access to the minds of those ill prepared to tell the two apart.
Michael Flett

Brilliantly written … The play follows Mina, a podcaster in the 21st century, whose pursuit of the truth is paralleled with the modern myth of Orson Welles’ adaptation of ‘The war of the Worlds’ for American radio. Welles’ adaptation was supposedly received by mass hysteria as the public believed the broadcast to be real. The show then deconstructs the initial smug laughs that such a story provokes: those silly Americans, gullible and sensationalist, not knowing the difference between fact and fiction! But, it suggests, if you were living in a time of uncertainty and rapid change, would you not also believe farfetched lies? Who are we to laugh at American ignorance when we Brits similarly swallow the prejudiced preaches of politicians and take the words of celebrities as gospel?
Zoe Robertson