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War of the Worlds

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Americans had plenty of things to be scared of back in 1938, but what effectively knocked their socks off was Howard Koch's adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel War of the Worlds, as famously (or infamously) performed on radio by Orson Welles' Mercury Theater on the Air. All that well(e)ness gets dusted off and lightly localized in a cheerfully anachronistic finale to Bricolage Production Co.'s season of its Midnight Radio project.

Directed by company artistic director Jeffrey Carpenter with co-creator and producing artistic director Tami Dixon, the radio drama is just sincere enough to avoid the excesses of camp, though camp it be.

The tale of Martians marauding their way to Pittsburgh is amplified visually with a multimedia show by stage manager Andrew J. Paul (not to be confused with Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre's Andrew S. Paul). And the entire shindig is musically punctuated and underscored by the delightful Ortner-Roberts Trio.

Bricolage has assembled a quartet of worthy local pros to portray the period actors performing the variety of voice roles, with Dixon and Carpenter providing the sound effects.

Sheila McKenna ably handles male as well as female characters. Michael Fuller is robustly reportorial in the shadow of the Martians, effective in his off-mic deaths. Jason McCune alternates smarmy and officious opposite Jeffrey Howell as the story's lead character, a scientist humbled by his ordeal.

And give a hand to WYEP's Brian M. Siewiorek, who guest-stars as an ill-fated reporter. (The production also features other local celebrities nightly in small roles.)

War is actually just the play within the larger Bricolage production, which includes satirically pointed "commercials" and a game show inviting audience participation. Although curtain is at 9 p.m., it's a good idea to come early to build your own "Martian" in the lobby if you want a stab at the game "Martians Are People Too!"

Take it for a Halloween treat or art for art's sake, War of the Worlds is a briskly well done one-act of mind candy.

 

War of the Worlds continues through Oct. 30. Bricolage Production Co., 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-381-6999 or www.webbricolage.org

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