I attended amongst a group of 10 people, some of us remembered the original album fondly, a couple had read the H. G. Wells book, and a couple had no knowledge of the story. The entry point is a 19th Century tavern, where you can have a drink while you await your fellow travelers. The parties set off in groups of around 15. and you begin by sitting in a small cinema where hologram images set the scene for the story.
You are then brought to a planetarium, and each of you gets an individual telescope, through which you can study the solar system. Through these telescopes, you can see strange substances gathering on Mars’ surface. Your professor reassures you that “The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one…”and then we are off into the adventure. Before long, our professor is cinders, and we are led from pillar to post by various soldiers and civilians, helping us to avoid the destruction around us, caused by the Martians.
Eventually we arrive at a dock, where we are shown into boats and virtual reality headsets recreate our journey to London, in the hope of escaping the devastation. Virtual reality has come a long way in the last couple of years and these sections work fantastically well, helped by the rocking motion of the boats and the wind in our face at various points of the scene. Having escaped from the river, we are led to another tavern where we can have another drink (or not) while we wait for our rescuers to bring us on the next section of our adventure.
The second half of the show involves lots more VR, including hiding in a church confessional box and a trip in a hot air balloon. If you remember the album, you will recognize these parts of the storyline, as it does stick quite close to the story on the album. Before you know it, you are deposited back in the tavern for the obligatory photo opportunity and a debrief. The show lasts a bit over two hours and the time flew by. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, whether we were aware of the story or not. There were a few genuinely jumpy moments, and the music was good. I have to say that I was disappointed that they cut the Phil Lynott, Julie Covington duet (however, I was the only one of our party who remembered the track…) but the VR and how immersive it was really made up for it.
By the way, we weren’t allowed to take photos inside, so the ones included are stock ones that I found on the internet. If anyone would like to claim them or wish for attribution, please leave a note in the comments and I will remove or comply as you wish. The venue is Leadenhall Street, quite near to Bank Station, in the city. All in all, it was an excellent evening and Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds is a great addition to the list of things to do in London.