Art Heist

Jack Bradfield
Poltergeist
New Diorama Theatre
to

Three art thieves break into the same gallery on the same night. A chef with a pencil moustache, a professional thief à la Mission Impossible and a bottle washer from Pizza Express, all after a little piece of something, something that will transport them into the realms of happiness and fulfilment.

Art Heist is a performance about stealing art, or the slapstick attempt to pull off the act. While it brings slick heist movie moments to the stage with actors dodging lasers, security guards, scaling walls and sewers, it also shines a light on the value of art.

Described as an “existential comedy caper about the power of frames and the absurdity of labels," its hard to find much of this meaning at first beyond the silly romps, jokes and physical stunts. Yet as the players reveal personal, funny, heart-warming stories that got them into this gallery space in the first place, all three touch on the perpetually elusive questions: what is art, its true value and its power to transform?

Poltergeist’s energetic, endearing cast, Alice Boyd, Serena Yagoub, Will Spence and Rosa Garland, run around as potential art heist thieves with earnest conviction as they draw the audience into a nutty game-playing journey riddled with questions, confusing us and confusing themselves with spot-on timing and effortless movement.

Then Jack Bradfield’s production builds on such confusion by adding screens that magnify the cast onstage, giving the cast cameras and microphones that give each performer the chance to dictate the dramatic flow of the evening.

Undoubtedly, as the layer upon layer of madcap drama is plastered on thick and fast, it does baffle, especially when the security guard jumps out of character to reveal that she’s a friend, in on the joke, and this all one big game. Like all great art, perhaps the point is exactly this: to leave the spectator with unanswered questions.

A lively and engaging show packed full of inventive game playing and physical dexterity, placing the audience directly into the frame of action. I was left equally perplexed, tickled and absorbed. Nevertheless, Art Heist is well worth breaking into the box office and raising the alarm for a ticket.

Reviewer: Rachel Nouchi