Written with Isley Lynn (Skin A Cat) and inspired by Orson Welles' radio broadcast, The War of the Worlds explores the ongoing power of fake events to cause real reactions. Intense, unsettling and entertaining, this super-smart and multi-layered show proves that in dark times the truth is a precious commodity.
Hi Isley, thanks for talking to TNC, how are you doing?
I'm doing great! Watching the fringe from afar as I'm not there this year, even though War Of The Worlds is. Big fomo but I'm dealing with it.
What does it mean to you to be bringing War of the Worlds to the Fringe?
Honestly, we just wanted to bring it to as many audiences as possible, and the fringe is great for that. We're in a big space and often selling out so it feels good to know we're reaching so many people.
What was your first fringe experience like?
It was fairly stressful, but nowhere near the horror stories I've heard from others. I went up with my play Tether in 2015 and found the whole festival to be a fantastic, exciting, toxic, exhausting party. But I know a little better now how to take care of myself...
Can you tell me a little bit about War of the Worlds, what can we expect?
Well, don't expect a straight adaptation. The original broadcast (itself an adaptation of the book) promised one thing and delivered another, and so do we. Rest assured it's fun and funny and there's no audience participation.
What was it about Orson Welles iconic road broadcast that interested you so much as a playwright?
Orson Welles himself is an incredible study in the power of the storyteller, and how we're all storytellers, even in consuming stories that aren't our own: we still make them what we want them to be. That's partly what this play is about, and at the heart of the story we're telling – which the audience in turn remakes as they watch it.
"...audiences are loving it and we have plans in place for a tour next year..."
How did the collaboration with Rhum & Clay come about?
They just asked me! It felt great that strangers had liked my work so much that they trusted me to work with them on a brand new idea. Thank god it's worked our pretty well!
What has the creative process been like working together on this?
Very very long conversations (I'm talking the kind that lasts three days straight), lots of improvisations, and changes right up until the curtain rises. The team are all so agile, and we ask a lot of them – they more than deliver.
What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced bringing this show to the fringe?
The set is a massive challenge. We're bringing seriously high production values to the fringe, and our set took HOURS to dismantle at the end of the New Diorama run earlier this year, so no one was totally sure we'd manage it here, but we do! Again, our team is spectacular.
When a show is running are you able to let it live or do you continue to make tweaks?
Right now I'm very zen about it – audiences are loving it and we have plans in place for a tour next year, so I'll wait until then to get my hands on it again.
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Definitely. My mom was an opera singer and I was taken by my parents to the theatre from a really young age. What a privilege that upbringing, and their ongoing support, is.
Has your style and approach to your work changed much since your debut?
I think I've gotten better! But otherwise, I'm doing the same as I always have: putting new stories onstage in ways that make you laugh and cry, preferably within seconds of each other.
"...the craft is the thing, but more and more artists are expected to be entrepreneurs as well."
What has been the best piece of advice you got when you started out?
Just make the work and make it for yourself – everything else is out of your control.
Do you have any advice or tips for any emerging playwright?
Develop your business skills as well as your craft – the craft is the thing, but more and more artists are expected to be entrepreneurs as well. It sucks but it's true so equip yourself.
What 3 words best describe this show?
True. Fake. Slippery.
And finally, what do you want your audiences to take away from War of the Worlds?
A good laugh and an argument in the bar afterwards.