Pros: The set and the performance of Carolina Main as Anna-Jacoby.
Cons: At times it dragged a bit and needed to be about 15 minutes shorter.
The dark and atmospheric (some might say hot and stuffy) tunnels of The Vaults have been transformed into a Victorian street – the environs of Seven Dials to be more precise – where you can sip gin, interact with street entertainers and mingle with the cast, who are all in character. Charley Wace is handing out flyers in an attempt to locate a missing crystal egg, and comes across the author H G Wells whom he persuades to listen to his story. They retire to a nearby shop, accompanied by the audience, to see the Cave family enact how the egg came into their possession, and demonstrate how Mr Cave’s behaviour has changed. Despite obviously needing the money it could bring, he refuses to part with it after seeing creatures from Mars who appear to be taking over his mind. Charlie is persuaded by an enigmatic foreigner to remove the egg from the shop, which results in the demise of Mr Cave, and the disappearance of the egg in mysterious circumstances.
The performances are all good apart from a couple of characters being a bit too ‘shouty’ for my liking. However, I am not an acoustics expert so this may have been necessary for the long narrow space not built for theatricals. I particularly enjoyed Carolina Main’s haunting portrayal of the disturbed Anna-Jacoby and would have liked to have seen more of her character. Des Carney, who plays Charlie, is a big hulking bloke with a full beard, so it was both bewildering and amusing to hear him referred to throughout the show as a ‘boy’.
The attention to detail in Jason Kelvin’s excellent set brings to life the small dingy Victorian shop and living quarters. There are period posters on the walls of the ‘street’, shop fronts to peer into, and a multitude of curious objects in Cave’s store. As ever, the trains passing overhead added an ominous rumbling to the proceedings. The blurb describes the show as ‘A multi-sensory, multi-disciplinary theatrical experience. . . Fusing multiple art forms. . . .’’, and whilst this is not incorrect, it may give a false impression of the scale.
This is an interesting story but there are times when nothing much seems to be happening, there is some repetition and the ending left the audience unsure whether it was time to applaud or not. It would benefit from having 15 or so minutes shaved off, to make it more punchy and flowing, and perhaps a bit more of a flourish at the conclusion. Despite that, it is an enjoyable interpretation of the short story and worth seeing.
Author: Based on an H G Wells’ story, adapted by Michael Archer
Director: Elif Knight
Producers: Old Lamp Entertainment and Rebekah Harvey
Box Office: 0207 401 9603
Booking Link: https://www.thevaults.london/the-crystal-egg
Booking Until: 13 January 2018