Art Heist

Heist films are great, aren’t they? Whether it’s the effortless style of the The Italian Job or the precision of an Ocean’s film, heist movies amaze by tricking the audience as much as they trick the target they are ripping off. Titling a show Art Heist immediately conjures up enticing prospects: clever twists, quick, witty dialogue and ultimate excitement. Poltergeist theatre’s sophomore show doesn’t really pull off any of these things, focusing a little more on the art than the heist.

Beneath the spiralling chaos of this performance lies a gem of a very good show.

As if the start to some sort of wild role playing game, three actors hurriedly prepare themselves for the scenario. The utterly magnetic Alice Boyd narrates from on stage, an omniscient voice that somehow seems able to control and alter the situation. Here the show is at its strongest; fast paced and occasionally hilarious in throwaway lines. The sequencing of events is cleverly composed, and though its all just exposition at this point, its far too engaging to complain. Visually, director Jack Bradfield makes excellent use of on stage cameras to give options of which character to follow, and the production is effortlessly slick. Nothing is new, though – it’s all very much following well defined tropes of a somewhat exhausted genre – but the pace and energy are enough to stay interested, and presumably some twists are imminent.

The trouble is that said twists never drop. Poltergeist don’t appear to be concerned with that, though, focusing much more on art itself, and our relationship to it. Each character has a different motive for stealing this one special painting, none more intriguing than Rosa Garland’s character, who seems to have developed romantic feelings for the object. In breakaway segments, Boyd speaks to the audience as the museum security guard, setting the play on a path towards examination of self. Touching moments that linger in the vicinity of profundity arrive and leave again without fanfare. What’s more, as the show continues, the slickness from the beginning decays into confusing madness, giving up altogether by the end. The audience participation is about as far from revolutionary as is possible, and what was a promising start becomes a bit of tiring mess.

Beneath the spiralling chaos of this performance lies a gem of a very good show. In Poltergeist’s previous production Lights Over Tesco Car Park, the company pulled off the incredible feat of delivering an outlandish and enjoyable story, sewed together by heart and genuine emotion. Art Heist seems like the group are trying to recapture that magic, with far less success. The promise of the title is excitement, but this production fails to surprise or excite with any mislaid of immaculately explained revelation. Every set piece is performed with requisite energy and is pleasant to watch, certainly, but they are never mind-blowing, never pushing the boundaries too far. Instead, Poltergeist aim to heighten their production by beginning to investigate lofty themes such as loneliness, and appreciation of art. But every attempt to do so merely scratches the surface, distracted by those crime tropes the cast are forced back to again and again. If these are the themes under the microscope for Poltergeist, perhaps they should question whether a heist really the best situation to use to explore them?

Reviews by Beverly Sproats

Underbelly, Bristo Square

It's True, It's True, It's True

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Drowning

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

Naughty Boy

★★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Stoned, Stupid and Stuck (A Californian Fairytale)

★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

Hyde and Seek

★★★
Traverse Theatre

Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Three thieves break into the same gallery on the same night. They're all intent on stealing the same extremely valuable painting. They're bound to meet and it's bound to get messy. An existential comedy caper which asks the big questions. What is art? Why is it extremely valuable? And, how much can I get for this on eBay? From the team behind multi award-winning Lights Over Tesco Car Park. **** (Scotsman). **** (Stage). New Diorama Theatre and Underbelly Untapped Award 2019.

Most Popular See More

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Cinderella The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets