6 – 13 January
Based on a story by H. G. Wells
Directed by Elif Knight
Adapted by Mike Archer
Produced by Luisa Guerreiro, Rebekah Harvey, Mike Archer & Old Lamp Entertainment
In this chilling adaption of the H. G. Wells’ short story, the author is confronted by a man with a strange story to tell, a tragic and twisted tale that spawns from the inheritance of a seemingly innocent crystal egg.
The short story from the mind behind The War of the Worlds and the Invisible Man is a brilliant one, and the adaption is wonderfully staged. Walking down the long corridor entrance in the Vaults is like strolling back in time, suddenly you’re being jovially greeted by a plodding copper or being bustled by woman in a 19th century dress, and from there you’re seamlessly plunged down the rabbit hole. The immersive elements are wonderful, you’re beckoned into their world and the actors do a fantastic job in making you feel involved.
Alas, this lasts all too briefly and as more of an introduction to the main meat of the show which is more classically staged, albeit with incredibly elaborate set and multimedia design work. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the elaborate set and design work, but it felt like a missed opportunity after the ensemble was so well introduced to have them so thoroughly snatched away.
The show was still immensely entertaining, the story is gripping vintage sci-fi, and the performers are an utter pleasure to watch. Desmond Carney (the woe-begotten Charley Wace), Edwin Flay (H. G. Wells), and Mark Parsons (Mr Cave) all bring powerful, characterful and earnest performances.
The same can be said about Jessica Boyde (Mrs Cave) and Carolina Main (Ann-Jacoby), while Vincent La Torre gives a particularly memorable and charismatic performance as the mysterious foreigner Bosso-Kuni.
The shows intensity is a problem. It occasionally encounters the trap that most dark work has, and the unrelenting grimness can lose its edge and become a grind. As Cave’s madness grows we are given little respite or change in dynamic within the slow decent. Parsons’ performance is convincing, nuanced and likable (at least at first). However, the madness began to drag for me. I found myself impatient for the next plot point, perhaps a problem that might be expected when expanding a short story to a full-length show.
It didn’t help that the chair I sat on was not kind to me. To future viewers, see if you can find one with a cushion!
All in all though, I thought it was bloody terrific.
A wonderful first show of my 2018, and worth seeing!