Review: The Crystal Egg Live
Image: The Vaults
Charley Wace - Desmond Carney
Mr Cave - Mark Parsons
Mrs Cave - Jessica Boyde
Anna-Jacoby Cave - Carolina Main
Bosso-Kuni - Vincent La Torre
H.G. Wells - Edwin Flay
Policeman - Piers H Hunt
James Parker - Mike Archer
They Are Watching!
London's newest immersive, multi-media experience is about to land in a sci-fi extravaganza at The Vaults, Waterloo.
The Crystal Egg Live by H.G. Wells tells the story of Charley Cave.
After watching his father dash into the night, Charley is taken in by Uncle Wace, an eccentric old man who, with his dysfunctional family, runs a curiosity shop in London's Seven Dials Rookery.
When the body of his father is found, Charley inherits the sole possession found with it - a crystal egg.
Believing the object to be of value, the family plan to sell it quickly and improve their lives.
However, one night Wace makes a chance discovery about this seemingly innocent item, a discovery that threatens to tear the family apart and plunge the world into a greater danger.
Old Lamp Entertainment invites you to The Vaults to uncover the secret for yourself.
Fusing instillation art, cinematic soundscapes, video, and live performance; this production will bring to life the work of seminal writer H. G. Wells, author of 'The War of the Worlds' like never before.
Step back into 19th Century London to discover an object of immense power amongst the dusty relics of Wace's curio shop, and come face to face with creatures of another world.
What would you do if you knew you were being watched?
Watched by someone you were not even aware was there?
It's back to Victorian London for this immersive adaptation of H. G. Wells's sci-fi short story about Martians spying on earthlings, possibly with the intention of invading the blue planet.
Written in 1897, the story is set in an area of London called Seven Dials - centred on a junction of seven streets.
The area had originally been developed in the 1690's for the well-off, but by the late Victorian era properties had deteriorated and the district became one of the most notorious slums in London.
It's this locale that provides the backdrop for Well's story, largely set in a shop owned by Mr Cave (commendably played by Mark Parsons) and selling all manner of second and third-hand goods.
Interior Mr Cave's shop - photo by Miryana Ivanova
A simple glance at the photo above, gives a pretty clear indication of the detailed and painstaking work which has gone into creating the setting for this piece.
But the play actually starts outside the shop in the midst of Seven Dials itself when we enter the Victorian world as we arrive for the performance.
Various characters who we're later to see in the drama are already striding through and hovering around the audience as we assemble in Seven Dials surrounded by shops replete with bric-a-brac of various kinds.
The action begins in this location before we promenade into Mr Cave's shop where the remainder of the action takes place and where we settle-down in our seats to watch the rest of the story unfold.
Edwin Flay plays the author H. G. Wells who is roped-in to his own creation to hear the story of Charley Wace, a boy who has been taken in by his uncle, Alfred Cave, on the disappearance of his father.
When Charley's father's body is discovered some of his possessions are handed-over to the boy and he finds among them a strange object in the shape of an egg which seems to have been carved from some kind of crystal.
It's this egg and its effects, especially on Alfred Cave, that the play focuses on.
Though The Crystal Egg Live is described as "immersive" (and we do have some interaction with characters at the beginning of the piece) the subsequent action is delivered in a more traditional kind of style with the audience seated for scenes inside Cave's shop.
Playing in one of The Vaults' many brick-lined arches adds enormously to the atmosphere, and the occasional rumble of trains in the background enhances that ambience rather than detracting from it or acting as an irritant.
Designer Jason Kelvin seems to have relished the challenge of recreating both an outdoor street location and an interior bulging with all manner of curiosities.
The result is a formidable and hugely impressive achievement that takes us believably back in time.
Mark Parsons and Jessica Boyde - Photo by Miryana Ivanova
Additionally, Simeon Miller provides wonderfully effective design for the projections which lend the necessary 'sci-fi' element and bring the magical egg to life.
Director Elif Knight pulls the whole thing together with self-assured poise given the complexity of the endeavour, and elicits well-judged, confident and plausible performances from a well-chosen cast.
Totally absorbing and engrossing for the duration, The Crystal Egg Live is a skilfully and meticulously executed play, authentically-delivered.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for The Vaults Theatre
Our show listing for The Crystal Egg Live
Read our reviews' policy