Review: Art Heist, Poltergeist, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

What happens when three thieves break into a gallery, the same night, to steal the same painting? A hilarious series of events full of comedy, gasps of close calls and complete chaos.

Art Heist by the company Poltergeist, in partnership with Underbelly and New Diorama Theatre, bring us a high energised and full of calamity production featuring three thieves and a gallery guard. All have different motives, different personalities and bring their own humour and likeability. At some point the characters are all bound to bump into each other, but there is a sense of a tense atmosphere while waiting for this, along with near misses. Once they do, the interaction is surprising, well thought out and full of comedy.

There’s hardly a break in this production for anyone – reminiscent of Monty Python, come Mischief Theatre’s ‘Comedy about a Bank Robbery’ with a hint of alternative reality/game culture, the narrative and actions are both fast paced and with quick thinking, yet perfectly accomplished with every comical intent hit.

Each character narrates their actions, sometimes with interaction from the guard who throws spanners in the works. This reminds me of watching a video game, with planned out thoughts that not always come to fruition.

The staging and lighting is simple – characters are always on stage but always engaged. We get different levels away from the main action, without a single person breaking character.  Multimedia is used with cameras, sound effects, lights e.t.c. to give the emphasis of a gallery but also to layer the action.

The performers themselves are hysterical – fully involved in their characters, there is freedom to ad lib and go with the chaos, especially when the audience are encouraged to interact. The simple ‘guard training’ that the audience undertake is hilarious in itself; again, it is simple but well put together.

Art Heist will steal your heart and rob your laughter – coming away, there is admiration of the energy of these performers and great smiles at how much fun we have in just an hour.

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