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Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.” These opening lines have gone on to be the starting point for many a journey since they were first written by H. G. Wells and published in 1897. Orson Wells terrified a whole nation with a radio version of the story and Tom Cruise proved that sometimes a big name and special effects don’t make a great film in the 2005 movie version. Proving the versatility and longevity of the original tale in 1978, Jeff Wayne produced a musical album of the story which went on to sell over 15 million copies. The story as I’m sure you’ve guessed is The War of the Worlds and in 2019 this was turned into Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience which I was lucky enough to experience recently.
Jeff Wayne's The War of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience
The show starts when you enter a rather nondescript building on London’s Leadenhall Street and you are welcomed, given your wristband, and asked to sign a waiver, just in case something goes wrong during your visit. Once done, you wait in The Spirit of Man Bar until the Martian above your head shoots smoke the same colour as your wristband whereupon you assemble at the door with your group of adventurers. After a quick briefing reminding you that 21st-century technology wasn’t invented in 1908 – so switch your phone and watch off – in we went back to Victorian London, where you meet the narrator and his wife who inform us that the story, we have been told of the great invasion is basically a lie made up by the establishment to make the entire event seem like a victory for the British Empire.

Jeff Wayne’s wonderful opening number “The Eve of War” kicks in, the room vibrates and we are off, back to the late 1800s with Professor Ogilvy telling us about the dead planet of Mars we can see in our telescopes. Suddenly there is a green flash from the planet and the world as we know it changes forever.

Since this is a fully immersive show, I can’t tell you too much more except that over the course of the next two hours or so you will travel through 24 scenes via a groundbreaking interactive blend of virtual reality, volumetric holograms and live theatre. You will have your mind blown and your senses shocked and, if you were like my companion Sam and myself, you will enjoy every second of it. Aside from Jeff Wayne’s wonderfully remastered music, the sets, actors and – I have to say sounds and smells – will completely take your mind and body into Mr Wells’ world.

This was my second visit to Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience, and I loved it as much as the first. In fact, possibly more so as I noticed things I had missed previously. This was Sam’s first visit and she immediately wanted to go again. In fact, at one point, they were so into the VR we’d been experiencing she didn’t realise it had ended. From a technical point of view, the VR is truly fantastic, and is used to really great effect in bringing massive set-piece moments in the story to life in a way that even a 3D film would have trouble producing. The physical cast are really hard-working, interacting with the audience throughout and responding brilliantly to whatever they say or do whilst never breaking character and ensuring everyone moves along through the scenes at the right pace.

Not much more I can say really. My favourite moments from the show include “Forever Autumn” and “Thunder Child”, my time in the confessional and the beautiful, and terrifying ending. Would I go a third time? Did Sam and I have an amazing time? Yes, we did. In fact, after we finished and received our survivors’ welcome back in the bar, we sat and talked about the show for the next couple of hours until they closed. What are the chances we would go and see Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience again? Well, they are definitely less than a million to one we said.

5 Star Rating

Review by Terry Eastham

Get ready for a completely unique multi-sensory experience that transports you back to 1898 to experience a Martian invasion.

Live actors guide you through 24 interactive scenes enhanced with virtual reality and multi-sensory effects – all set to Jeff Wayne’s iconic score.


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