Review: The Crash of the Elysium, Crown Street car park, until July 8

A brooding sense of danger, a dark feeling of suspense, and then joyous exhilaration. These are just some of the emotions you experience during the site-specific Dr Who adventure The Crash of Elysium which has just opened in Ipswich.

Its a show which places the audience at the heart of the action. What starts off as a visit to a museum ends in a frantic run for your life with you tumbling backwards and forwards in time and space.

Trapped in an enclosed world it is all too easy to believe that everything around it real and you are living a real-life Dr Who adventure.

At one point you find yourself on an alien spaceship. Everything around appears to be real. You are being escorted by three mysterious soldiers who have whisked you away from an exhibition about the SS Elysium a 19th-Century steamship, built in Ipswich, which founded, in gales off Beachy Head, in 1888.

These soldiers, like everything else around you, appear to be real. As they propel us along, running through dark, narrow corridors, smoke billows at our feet and piercing alarms sound. At some points only the red glow of emergency lighting illuminates our way – at one point even that fails.


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As we stumble forward the ground changes, cables and flexible piping hang down from shattered service ducts above our heads. We are no longer in the museum. It appears we are on board a crashed spaceship and the soldiers are on a rescue mission.

We are soon organised into groups by the soldiers. A static-filled message from the Doctor lets us know we are being stalked from the shadows by a deadly menace. Art works have come to life.

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Along the way we have to negotiate our way through a spooky hall of mirrors, an incredibly authentic Victorian circus and a variety of dark, cramped tunnels with unknown terrors lurking in the darkness. Throughout the performance we are always looking over our shoulders afraid of what maybe stalking us.

It’s all about atmosphere which is helped by a staggeringly realistic set, always in-character performances from the soldiers and an array of lighting and sound effects.

It’s a show which is all too easy for you to suspend your disbelief. It is an experience which dazzles our senses and allows our imagination to run riot.

It’s the must-see show of the summer. Just don’t blink!

Dr Who: The Crash of the Elysium runs until July 8.

Tickets are still available for family and adult performances from the New Wolsey Theatre. No-one under 13 is permitted into an adult performance.

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