This adaptation has good intentions, but the briefness of the story will leave audiences unclear what it is trying to say.
There is no denying that this is a very strange if intriguing story that shows just how powerful and dangerous obsession can be.
When Charley Wace comes to live with his uncle Mr Cave and his wife following the death of his father, he comes in possession of a mysterious crystal egg which seems to have mysterious powers of its own. As Mr Cave’s obsession with the egg grows, so does the egg’s hold on him. That is the extent of the story that leaves many unanswered questions particularly in this adaptation which doesn’t attempt to draw any reasonable conclusion about what eventually happened to the egg.
The main problem with Mike Archer’s adaptation is that there is no real sense of character or plot development because the original story doesn’t give much for adaptors to work with as (having done some research) much of the story is concerned with description of what can be seen in the egg rather than the effect it has on the characters.
However, what Archer’s adaptation does do is beautifully build up the tension as Mr Cave’s fascination with egg begins to change his personality, leaving the audience wondering exactly what the egg is capable of.
It is disappointing to note however that despite being billed as a ‘multi-media experience’, there is very little to be found in Elif Knight’s production. Yes, there is a lovely immersive bit at the beginning in which the audience can interact with characters – but after you move through to the next scene, the rest of the performance is played out more like a traditional theatre production.
This is very frustrating as the cast do give it their all in their performances to keep the audience gripped throughout. In particular, Mark Parsons as Mr Cave beautifully contrasts being the loving uncle and family man to an obsessive and aggressive individual who won’t listen to reason – a gripping performance to watch. He is matched by Jessica Boyd as Mrs Cave who desperately wants money to look after her family properly which can make her come across as ruthless at times but softened by her clear affection for her daughter Anna. It is a shame that the other characters aren’t given as much to do – Desmond Carney as Charley could have been more effectively used rather than just trying to take the egg off his uncle constantly and Carolina Main as Anna is certainly underused, but both are solid support throughout.
Overall, it is a production which grabs the attention in terms of the performance, but the plot and adaptation feel extremely empty that leaves the audience completely bewildered.
The Crystal Egg Live continues to play at The Vaults until the 13th January. For more information visit: https://www.thevaults.london/the-crystal-egg