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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

War of the Worlds (On a Budget)

Lamphouse Theatre

Genre: Comedic, Comedy, Theatre, Theatrical Clown, Tribute Show

Venue: theSpace at Surgeons' Hall


Low Down

“Step aside HG Wells, take a break Jeff Wayne, back to your trailer Tom Cruise, Lamphouse is tackling War of the Worlds and they’re doing it… on a budget! Featuring one man, a loop pedal, lots of cardboard, many hats and several terrifying (definitely not made out of paper) tripods. Can our hero outrun the aliens, play 25 characters, stop for a tea break and save the day? Featuring a full soundtrack of new music, War of the Worlds (On a Budget) is the musical-comedy, action-adventure we didn’t know we needed!”


No one would have believed a reviewer could have been so bowled over a a low budget solo version of War of the Worlds. Slowly but surely, he began to pen his review…

Yes, yes, it does exactly what it says on the tin rocket. And rather a lot more. A madcap comedy version of the H.G Wells classic novel, this is a thrilling blend of storytelling, clown, musical, rap, stand-up, fall down, science fiction pastiche, rock opera, arts and crafts. with fully satisfying home-made Martian tripods, steampunkish special effects, wacky costumes, evocative hats, songs and knockabout set pieces all rolled into an hour; the pace of the show only flags deliberately and laughter gurgles into the silence like blood from a death-rayed Victorian priest or lady.

This version of War of the Worlds manages to doff a respectful cap to the original Wells material, even the mood of unfolding disaster for a complacent humanity about to be blasted to smithereens. Don’t get me wrong, it is laughter-inducing throughout and yet the world is being realistically taken over by Martians intent on our entire destruction before our hungry fringe-ridden eyes.  Poking fun at the macho-heroic form of pulp scifi, making a bold and possibly dodgy stab at gender stereotypes, our skilled host takes us on a thrilling theatrical  ride using physical theatre, inventive props and live-sampled songs to accomplished effect.

Jeff Wayne haunts some of the musical backdrop just enough (or little enough) to avoid Lamphouse Theatre being sued. The songs are a cornerstone of the narrative, the lyrics clever, the delivery skilful and sometimes even moving. That’s a jewel in the crown of this spoof show, that it isn’t 100% spoofy – aliens are invading, we can only blame our complacent selves and, despite remembering I am guffawing in a Fringe show, things are not all good with the planet more widely. Satirical references to our present world are are sometimes cutting, occasionally feel overdone and too force-fitted. Less will be more in terms of contemporary references. But kudos for reminding us that we might just be those Martians, destroying our own earth. Wells himself would enjoy this  show methinks.

It’s an atmospheric, delightful and very funny piece of family comedy. I was out of breath watching the performer, assisted by a lighting tech who… no go see it and find out.

The sampled beats and vocal work create songs and sound effects, the set is willingly met with our own imagination and the low budget vein that runs through this makes us lean in (if that were possible) even further into the action. It is a working set, every prop is necessary and there’s a lot of careful design behind the managed chaos. Skilled physical performance is about less sometimes being more, slow being better than fast, silence well-chosen being better than default noise and busyness. Only occasionally was so much going on that the chaos overshadowed the narrative. Mostly it is pitch perfect.

War of the Worlds (on a budget) from Lamphouse Theatre has to be the midday(ish) hot ticket at this year’s Fringe. The chances of anyone missing this show should be a million to one.




Show Website

Lamphouse Theatre