Review – Lights Over Tesco Car Park

Poltergeist Theatre

Pleasance Jack Dome

04/08/18

 

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Sorry, are you an alien?

No? You sure?

Ok. Just checking.

 

Though, actually, I don’t mind if you are, as long as you’re reading my work…

 

Since we’re all (probably) from Earth, and so might have a chance to see Poltergeist Theatre’s production of Lights Over Tesco Car Park (I’m not sure what the spaceship parking situation is around Edinburgh at the moment), I’m going to write a little something about the show.

The show has clearly started before you walk in the door. As you take your seats with the Cantina Band, S Club 7 and other cosmic classics playing, the performers chat and brownies are passed around.

An alien is introduced.

And the story is underway.

Lights Over Tesco Car Park follows the story of Rosa, Alice, Julia and Will as they work out whether to believe Robert’s report of an alien encounter. In between conversations with Robert, where he reports that he saw mysterious red lights over the car park in Tesco, and later informs them that an alien is coming to stay in his Air B&B room, the group indulges in thought experiments, eats many flying saucers, and explores historical abduction stories with the audience. Though there is a lot of audience interaction in the show, it was a low-pressure form of interaction, with any audience member that volunteered truly being a volunteer; no one was singled out at any point, the performers simply opened the space for any audience member to join them. Alongside this, there were instances in which the whole audience were invited to get involved, in a similarly low-focus manner. The words “audience interaction” can often strike dread into an audience, but Poltergeist Theatre have it nailed; without a doubt it was some of the best handling of audience involvement I have seen.

Alongside this, the overall execution of the piece was impressive, with Jack Bradfield’s writing tying potentially disparate parts together into a seamless journey. Simple changes from warm to cold washes in the lighting design and a detailed sound design by Alice Boyd complete the well crafted, consciously theatrical world of the piece.

Near the start of the play, the words “All of this is true” appear on the screen at the back of the stage, and in an odd way, it is all true. As they follow Robert’s story, the four performers/characters gently investigate what it means to be human, to connect, to make up community, to be together. Even though it is a play about aliens, Lights Over Tesco Car Park is an acutely honest, human play.

Lights Over Tesco Car Park runs at Pleasance Jack Dome until 27th August as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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