Brighton High School Dramatic Arts put on the play War of the Worlds last weekend at the BCPA.
From the stage setup to the actors’ performance, the directors Betsy Allardice and Amy Goller did a great job adapting the radio play into a stage performance. The actors were able to use simple boxes in order to mimic things such as airplanes, seats, and a presidential podium. In addition to these boxes, the alien space ship that hung on stage was cleanly designed and easy to see from all corners of the audience’s seating area. The background matched each scene very well, such as the simple black background with specks of light to act as lights on Mars and the yellow and red buildings background as if New York City was on fire.
The directors took a unique take on how to portray the aliens on stage and their effect on people.
In moments of panic, emotion erupted from the actor’s screams, the mixture of lights flashing on the stage, and even a few screams from the audience in surprise. Tube-like props were dropped from the ceiling to act as alien tentacles when the invasion occurred. Other elements were used to intensify fear for the aliens, including actors acting as aliens and coming from the outskirts of the audience and enlarged shadows upon screens on either side of the spaceship.
An added element that added to the success of this play was the operators at the folding table who produced authentic radio sounds to pair with each scene. At times, they danced with the main actors and fell into distress from the poisonous gas that killed some of the actors. In total, many times they acted as if they were within the play’s events as well instead of solely being an independent party kept at a distance. These characters added some humor that this play needed for its heavy topic full of stress and fear.
While there are many positive qualities of War of the Worlds, there are a few errors to be noted.
Specifically on Friday night, there were a few sound booms at the beginning, which were quickly resolved. Another error was that there was one of the sound operators before they all spoke at once in a cacophony of noise, one spoke out of turn leading up to it. There was not enough light directed on actors at certain times in the play, but this was a minimal issue.
Overall, War of the Worlds was a wonderful performance to behold and receives a rating of eight out of ten stars. Judging from the actors, it seemed like they enjoyed the production as well. Each element of the play contributed an added amount of emotion that left the audience proud of BHS Dramatic Arts students. A sound recording of the performance (resembling the original radio play which was only sounds) could have been enough to satisfy the audience but seeing the invasion unfold was a new level experience.