Brighton Festival: The War Of The Worlds finally gets to play Worthing

The last time Rhum and Clay offered their production of The War Of The Worlds was for a press preview of the shows coming up at Worthing Theatres last March.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 8:05 am
The War Of The Worlds
The War Of The Worlds

And then everything changed.

But they are thrilled the show can now finally go on in Worthing this time as part of the Brighton Festival.

The show will be at Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre from Thursday, May 20-Saturday, May 22 – a mighty relief to all.

Co-artistic director Matt Wells said: “We just absolutely cannot wait to be back.

“We were in rehearsals in March 2020 when it all stopped, and now we are in rehearsals again. It felt like the pause button was pressed! The last time we did anything on stage was an excerpt for the preview night in Worthing last year, and now we have come full circle. Last year it was one of those things where everyone was putting on a brave face while looking over their shoulder about all the restrictions that were going to be coming in.”

It has been a tough time since, but absolutely not an unproductive one: “On one level people who work in the arts are pretty resourceful because you have to be able to adapt and pick up other skills when you need them.

“As a company it all forced us to come together to see how we might survive. It sounds pretty boring, but it meant that we were able to do some of the things that we just don’t usually have time to do like looking at governance and setting up good financial systems, putting those sorts of things into place. It was a time to take stock. The difficult part was that we were arts administrators for a year when actually the rewarding stuff is making the shows – the thing we weren’t able to do!

“But we got by by keeping busy. It sounds dull but there was a lot of applying for grants, and we had a few digital projects. We remade our website, and we did a lot of workshops. It was good.”

But not as good as staging the show which is about to hit the road.

83 years since the original broadcast of Orson Welles’ classic radio play was reported to have caused widespread panic in its listeners, the company reimagine the tale for “our era of deliberate disinformation, fake news and alternative facts: an era where mistrust and fear are routinely stoked and the truth has become an ever-harder concept to identify.”

The War of the Worlds in this version slips between 20th and 21st century lives and listeners as if moving the dial on a radio: atmospheric and disorienting.

“To be brutally honest we chose it because the text is out of copyright, and we would be able to do what we wanted with it. Sometimes we say that it is an adaptation of an adaptation. If you mention it, a lot of different things spring up. Sometimes it is the Orson Welles play; sometimes it is the prog rock musical; sometimes it is the Tom Cruise film… But what we really focus on is using The War of The Worlds as a metaphor.

“At the time we were doing it, the buzz word was fake news, just thinking about what might make people believe a lie. What might make people believe that aliens were going to land. But actually when you look at some of the hysteria it caused, some of it was manufactured by the print media who were scared of this new device, the radio which allowed people to experience things as they happened… Since then, of course, we have had Trump; we have had the row over the result of the American election; we have had vaccine controversy and we have had the spread of falsehoods that are easy to pick up. What makes people susceptible to believe these things? Part of it, I think, is a yearning for a good story. If the story is good, then people remember it…”

There will be a performance with a British Sign Language interpreter on Saturday, May 22, 2.30pm.

For more information and to book tickets for The War Of The Worlds, visit or call the WTM box office on 01903 206206.