Art Heist (3 stars)

This article is from 2019

Art Heist

A lingering sense of style over substance

After their runaway success with Lights Over Tesco Carpark last year, expectations were always going to be high for Poltergeist Theatre. While the company has become increasingly inventive with their staging, there's a lingering sense of style over substance in Art Heist, where three utterly bonkers burglars attempt to rob a gallery on the same night and tightly choreographed chaos ensues.

In an apparent mash-up of Mission Impossible and a Dungeons & Dragons session, each character must find creative solutions to the problems game master / security guard Alice Boyd throws at them, and defeat their rivals. It's a cool, fun concept and writer Jack Bradfield has constructed an airtight farce full of intersecting subplots.

However, such a tight structure leaves no room for the element of chance, the very thing that makes role player games like D&D so much fun to watch and play. This, and gimmicky audience interaction, cheapen this potential masterpiece. Ruminations on the value of art and what art even means feel slightly shoe-horned into the script. The images produced by onstage cameras, moving lights and roaming lasers certainly make for a visual spectacle but by the end it feels about as empty as the frames they're fighting over. While Art Heist is enjoyable to consume, it says very little – rather like much modern art.

Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug (not 14), 1.55pm, £11–£12 (£10–£11).

Art Heist

  • 3 stars

Poltergeist / Untapped by Underbelly and New Diorama Theatre 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…