Here’s the promotional trailer,
Exciting, eh? Tash Reith-Banks writes about this immersive theatre experience in a January 5, 2018 article for The Guardian (Links have been removed),
HG Wells hold a special place in the hearts of many sci-fi enthusiasts and scientists alike. Best known for his novels The War of the Worlds, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The Invisible Man, Wells’s work is renowned for its prescience and has been revisited and adapted many times, so modern do some of his fears and preoccupations seem.
The Crystal Egg is a short story written 1897. Set in a grimily familiar depiction of Victorian London, it is a disturbing piece combining an almost Dickensian family-run curiosity shop, a pleasing account of scientific method and altogether more eerie references to portals into other worlds and alien beings.
I asked the show’s producer, Mike Archer, and director, Elif Knight to talk me through their interest in Wells, the challenges of adaptation and how Victorian sci-fi sits alongside more contemporary fiction, film and television.
What drew you to HG Wells in general and this story in particular?
Mike Archer: I have been a fan of Wells’s work since I was a boy. I encountered The Crystal Egg in 2005 and was drawn to the idea of it extending the mythos of the invasion from Mars in The War of the Worlds.
Recently, I started to feel the story had something to say about things that are happening in the world right now. When we went back to the story, myself and my partner Luisa Guerreiro thought about how we could use The Crystal Egg as an inspiration, and wanted to adapt it into an invasion story for the now.
Elif Knight: I was aware of HG Wells as a very prescient writer of science fiction. The fact that he had predicted many of the inventions and developments of the 20th century – not least manned flight and the internet – demonstrated that his imagination was not just wide-ranging but also accurate. But the question arose: how to show what an extraordinary piece of work The Crystal Egg is? And when the producers offered me the Vaults as a location, I had my answer – to recreate for the audience the atmosphere of the late nineteenth century, so that they could get a sense of how astonishing Wells’s vision was at that time.
Were there any particular challenges in staging the story?
MA: Yes, several. The biggest for me, was how to honour the source material whilst making it engaging on a relatable level and feeling somewhat fresh. The book is very scientific in its vision, but that scientific vision alone doesn’t necessarily translate to a two hour show.
I like sci-fi to feel real. For me the best kind is when you have a world that is recognisable and believable and sci-fi just so happens to be a part of it. I think that is where the semi-immersive nature of part of the show came from. Bringing the audience, themselves aliens in a foreign world, face-to-face with the creation of Wells. This means you have to have a believable world in which to play. We did a lot of research into the Seven Dials area, the context of the story’s creation and began to extrapolate it out.
EK: That was a challenge : to re-create the slums of Victorian London in the Vaults. For example, with a small cast we had to create a busy market day in the London of 1897. But that is where things get interesting; that’s where I have used other media and interesting sonic and filmic devices to bring the area to life.
Here’s more about the show from the Crystal Egg Live! event page,
THE CRYSTAL EGG
An immersive adaptation of H.G. Wells’ mystery novel. Dive in to Victorian London deep underground, using multimedia to enhance your immersive experience.
…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 in the river, 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 multiple art forms including light, sound, video, and performance; this production will bring to life the work of seminal writer H. G. Wells, author of ‘The War of the Worlds’ and ‘The Time Machine’ 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?
Preview: 6th January 2018 6.00pm
Performances: 7th- 13th January 2018 4.00pm & 7.30pm daily
Strictly limited run
Press Performance: 7.30pm on 7th January 
£20 – Preview performances
£30 – General Admission
Prices exclude Booking fee
Book online, by phone or in person at V3, 100 Lower Marsh. SE1
To book Step-free or Access tickets, please call 02074019603
Entrance to THE CRYSTAL EGG is via our Leake Street entrance
There may be an age limitation; please phone ahead.
For anyone not familiar with The Vaults, there’s a comprehensive description fo the site and explanation for how to get there. Enjoy!
*’Jan. 6 – 15′ corrected to ‘Jan. 6 – 13’ on January 8, 2018.