NORTHERN Stage has placed the responsibility for its small scale touring production of The War of the Worlds onto North, a new company established to help develop ‘emerging talent’.

But have no worries about the strength and capabilities of the four young actors cast in this inaugural production. They are a talented and committed quartet who work perfectly together, and as narrators of Wells’ famous story, they conjure vivid images of the Martian invasion and its aftermath.

Set on a simple raised platform, the production is accompanied throughout by Mariam Rezai’s chillingly effective sound design, and enhanced by Richard Flood’s atmospheric lighting - not to mention a good dose of smoke from the special effects department.

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Laura Lindow’s adaptation cleverly relocates the action of the novel to Tyneside where familiar landmarks add to the immediacy of the extra-terrestrial attack. The Cathedral and castle keep both feature, and Ridley, played by an excellent Jack Lloyd, swims across the Tyne in his bid to escape.

The original period setting of 1898 also adds to the impact of the high tech invasion with Martian weaponry being seen through less sophisticated Victorian eyes. The mention of ‘black gas belching from Martian guns’ becomes all the more horrifying knowing that within two decades mustard gas would have such a catastrophic effect during the first world war.

Wells’ concern for the human cost of technological progress continues today, and it is worth being reminded that, Martians apart, Science Fiction does have a habit of becoming Science Fact.