• Amy Toledano

Art Heist presented by Poltergeist

Image courtesy of Richard Davenport

What is it?

Fresh from the fringe this year is Poltergeist's newest play ‘Art Heist’. A 60 min straight through extraordinaire quite accurately self described as an ‘existential comedy caper about the power of frames and the absurdity of labels’.

What is it all about?

3 thieves (of varying skill and experience) hatch three separate plans to steal the same painting from the same art gallery on the same evening. The inevitable happens as the three meet about half way through. The play starts in the hands of a fourth, more vague character acting as a sort of game controller or ‘player’ curating the whole sequence as if choosing her ‘Sims’ characters before everything begins. This allows for a perfectly timed introduction to each ‘thief’ and backstories galore. The game then continues through various twists and turns as they approach the painting and begin to look within themselves individually searching for reason or motive or salvation. The play understandably becomes less about a particular painting and more about the inner turmoil these four characters face and ends up being very touching as well as being completely farcical.

How did it make me feel?

Jealous. That I wasn’t in it mostly.

Art Heist is a joyous hour of theatre that is intelligently presented by all involved. There are times when I was laughing out loud, holding my breath and wanting to cry which are all the ingredients for a successful comedy show. I didn’t think about leaving to go for a wee once as I didn’t’ want to miss anything, and that’s how I judge a good play with no interval these days!

Where is it playing?

Currently on at New Diorama- a great space that suits it really well, with its only downside being its capacity. The show is sure to sell out quickly so if you’re on the fence about grabbing a ticket get off the fence before there are no seats left to sit on.

(New Diorama Theatre, Regent’s Place, NW1 3BF Nearest tube Warren Street)

Anything else?

Having not been able to get my hands on an elusive ticket for this up in Edinburgh this year I was eager to see what all the buzz was about, and how so many people could be so enthralled in a comedy art heist that latest under an hour.

Unsurprisingly it did not disappoint. Deliberately 2D, while simultaneously being utterly compellingly 3D in its human, yet ridiculously silly approach. On paper a play about art and galleries maybe reads as exclusive or high brow but Poltergeist completely destroys this and any preconceived ideas the audience may have before the show. Without ever mocking or judging, it explores deeper and more relatable ideas of ‘value’ and human reasoning and has the audience totally engaged throughout. It is highly energised and well written and directed, which means that you are able to fully follow several plot lines without getting lost. It is lightly sprinkled with tight and slick movement sequences that do not feel out of place or out of style. All members of the cast have developed fully formed and likeable characters that you are secretly rooting for (even as thieves), and so to name or pick out anyone in particular seems unfair as it is such a well formed piece of theatre.

Sophie x

Art Heist is playing at New Diorama Theatre until the 26th October 2019.

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