Art Heist, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

By Joanna Trainor

Poltergeist Theatre Company’s Alice Boyd could read you the yellow pages, and it would sound like the most magical book you’ve ever heard.

What is art? Who gets to decide that? Why is it so hard to draw a moustache on your own face? Poltergeist Theatre Company deal with all of life’s big questions in their follow up show to last year’s sell-out smash Lights Over Tesco Car Park. 

Three wannabe thieves choose the very same night to break into a gallery and steal the most beautiful and valuable painting in the building. With only a pretty easily-deceived guard standing in the way of the room where it’s held, what could possibly go wrong?

With their own brilliant brand of madcap theatre, Poltergeist use cameras, plinths, witting audience members and a laser dance that the Night Fox from Ocean’s Twelve would be proud of to create Art Heist. It’s like looking at a Pollock painting – a sort of stunning chaos.

Sometimes it’s ok not to understand everything that’s going on onstage. Or to make up your own mind about the questions the company are asking. In fact, one of the best things about Poltergeist is that they make productions that everyone in the room gets to share in together. We help create the show through audience participation, and from Alice the guard’s conversation with the room, so that it feels like we’re part of something that will only exist at this one time. Each performance is entirely unique in this way, and that’s just a bit magic, really.

Most importantly though, dear Poltergeist TC, I’ve never seen a less appetising sausage sandwich in all my days. I’m genuinely still distressed from thinking about it.

Art Heist runs through 25 August (excluding 14 August) at Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh.

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