Review: War of the Worlds, The Brighton Centre

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I came out of The Brighton Centre half believing that this might be the last review I would ever write.

So engrossing was the closing performance of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds that the climax showing the Martian fighting machines making a new and decisive attack on Earth on New Year’s Eve 2014 seemed a highly probable scenario.

As HG Wells laboured as an apprentice in a Southsea draper’s store in the early 1880s, can he really have imagined that he would write so vivid a story that, over a century later, would be showcased in such a dynamic and captivating way?

It seems hard to imagine, but surely the famed writer - played convincingly in youth, middle age and dotage by Callum O’Neill - would have been spellbound by this incredible interpretation of his terrifying tale.

The venue shook with flame and fire and, above all, thunderous music, as the story unfolded before us.

In a cast of stars, Jason Donovan was brilliantly insane as Pastor Nathaniel and Brian McFadden added lilting Irish voice in the singing parts for the role of The Journalist, otherwise played by a hologram of Liam Neeson. His ghostly presence throughout the performance only added to the air of suspense and foreboding.

And amid it all stood Jeff Wayne, Martian red weed growing even across the back of his shirt as he spiritedly led two dozen or so talented musicians through his masterpiece.

This was the final show in what was billed as the last arena tour by the box-office smash performance.

Yet even as that haunting Ulla! cry echoed through the minds of a departing audience, came the thought that surely public demand might one day lead to a new round of performances.

But still they come? Let us hope so.