War of The Worlds Reimagined: Part 1, The Algonquin Tapes (Frog in Hand Productions Inc.) 2021 Toronto Fringe Review

Image of “Distorted camper.” Designed by Colleen Snell Radio drama is back in War of the Worlds Reimagined: Part 1, The Algonquin Tapes by Frog in Hand Productions Inc., playing now as part of the 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival. Only this time, it has a Canadian slant, taking place in the Algonquin wilderness.

Full disclosure: I love audio dramas.

I love that you have to pay attention differently from in-person performances. The best ones make you stop what you’re doing because you are so invested in the story and the characters. War of the Worlds Reimagined: Part 1, The Algonquin Tapes hits the nail on the head in terms of acting, pacing, story, and audio effects.

This retelling of War of the Worlds is written and directed by Andrew Gaboury. Alix (Lizzie Moffatt) is hiking in Algonquin, on her way to meet up with her longtime friend Sam (Alice Cavanagh). She sees a strange pulsing light in the distance. Convincing her friend to investigate with her, they encounter a threat from another world.

Moffatt and Cavanagh nailed their performances. As the hopeful, nature-loving Alix, Moffatt is a pleasure to listen to. Cavanagh’s more gung-ho Sam adds a perfect balance to the story. The focus on these two characters, the interplay between them, is endearing. The two have real chemistry, and they play a convincing friendship. Considering the limited time we have with them, you get to know them really well. When things fall apart, I cared about what happened to them.

For a show dependent on sound, it would be easy for Gaboury to rely on exposition and extended descriptions by the characters. Instead, he balances that. Yes, Alix describes her surroundings, but it’s not overdone. The dialogue fits in the important details while trusting the audience to work with their imaginations. 

Chaos, of course, hits fast and hard here with the alien invasion. How do you create an alien invasion in an audio drama? With amazing sound design. At one point, you can hear the size of the tripods crashing through the trees while Sam and Alix run away. Sound designer Miquelon Rodriguez created a scene you can feel and visualize. Just to be clear, when I say feel, I mean it thrums in your bones.

Of course, it’s not a perfect production. Do you know what my biggest complaint is? When you look at the title, you’ll see this is part one with 2 more installments planned. As soon as the story starts cranking into high gear, we reach the end.

Frog in Hand Productions Inc. has something special here. If the full three sections had been available, I 100% would have binged the whole thing.It’s just that good.

Details

  • War of the Worlds Reimagined: Part 1, The Algonquin Tapes is playing on-demand at the Virtual 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival.
  • Purchase a $5 Membership to access the On-Demand programming on the Fringe website, then Pay What You Can to each show as you go, with the suggested price of $13 per show.
  • Memberships can be purchased here. View the virtual on-demand show listings here.
  • Accessibility notes:
    • On-Demand shows: videos are closed captioned, transcripts are available for all audio content, documents are screen-reader friendly, and all digital images are provided with alternative text descriptions. These access supplements have been generated by the company and reviewed by the Festival. They may vary slightly from company to company.
    • Fringe Primetime presentations will feature Auto-Transcribed Captioning.
  • Content Warning: Mature language, abrupt cues, graphic violence

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