Fact collides with fiction – and we’re never sure which is which – in Rhum & Clay’s bold riff on the classic HG Wells tale The War of the Worlds.

Anyone coming along to the North Wall, in Summertown, hoping for a retelling of the elegant story of Martians invading the Home Counties will be sorely disappointed, however.

The play instead takes its cue from the iconic American radio broadcast by Orson Welles, in which the action was transposed to New Jersey.

That broadcast, which featured ‘real’ journalists and witnesses delivering live eye witness accounts, famously sparked mass panic, with people leaving New York believing an alien invasion was underway.

Pure fiction causes real life panic... though is that story itself a myth?

This beautifully composed production, featuring just four actors, takes us from that dramatic broadcast to the present day, on the trail of a mystery which divided a family, all dated back to the fateful broadcast.

What unfurls is a series of Russian doll-like shells of truths and lies stretching back into time and brought into sharp focus into the present day – with Trump, ‘fake news’ and conspiracy theories.

What and whom do we believe?

Despite its ultra-minimal cast and scenery, the production bursts in our faces like the mythical Martian heat ray – and we instantly forgave the lengthy delay to the play’s start, caused by inevitable technical troubles requiring the auditorium to be cleared.

The Oxford Times:

The delay went on so long, we wondered whether this was part of the play or an experiment in crowd behaviour (I’m still not wholly convinced either way).

A highly technical affair it is though, with dramatic sound and lighting – the action taking place in our own heads, whether it be landing alien cylinders, marching tripods, or cooking waffles.

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Mona Goodwin, Julian Spooner, Amalia Vitale and Matthew Wells take on all roles in a kinetic display which leaves us reeling. Delivery is punchy and movement beautifully choreographed with dancers’ grace.

It is fast-paced and noisy, yet interspersed with moments of uneasy calm and realisation. It’s funny and unsettling and inevitably leaves us questioning our own gullibility.

A triumph then, and well worth seeing. Believe me! It’s on til tonight. 4/5