Just in time for Halloween, Poltergeist Theatre’s new show, Lights Over Tesco Car Park, is a devised piece concerning all things alien and extra-terrestrial. The fifty-minute play takes the shape of multiple vignettes presented in various forms, including monologues, audience-participation, short rave sequences, and even phone calls with Rob, a real life ‘close encounter’ believer.
Poltergeist theatre have described their new show as “part documentary, part comedy, part gig.” I was intrigued to see how they would present such a broad topic without any clear narrative structure, and ultimately no sense of a fourth-wall. However, the small cast of just four, Alice Boyd, Rosa Garland, Julia Pilkington, and Callum Coghlan, executed the piece with energy, confidence, and wit, each individually shining at various moments throughout the performance. Boyd and Pilkington should specifically be commended on their impressive comic timing, both captivating the audience through their silent tempting of audience members onto the stage with flying saucer sweets.
Throughout the performance, director Jack Bradfield’s style of absurdist humour is juxtaposed with moments of tenderness, which the actors deliver with sensitivity and aplomb. We are presented with the stories of a Brazilian farmer abducted by aliens, a New-Hampshire couple stolen away and probed, two friends who encounter an alien on an A road near Edinburgh, and the afore-mentioned Rob who reported seeing lights over Tesco on Magdalen road. During the preshow, in which the cast engage in conversation with individual members of the audience, Boyd revealed that the play is “all about making connections.” These moments of warmth definitely reflect the overall message of ‘connection’, as we see various life forms being brought together.
The company’s inventiveness is striking throughout the performance. The cast transform the stage using flying saucer sweets over phone torches to create a tableau of ‘the lights’, and later a hat placed on a mic-stand becomes Rob. However, it is possible that the North Wall is too large a venue for the minimal props and make-shift aesthetic that give the piece its charm. Perhaps the performance might have been better suited to a black-box theatre.
Despite some of the cast’s improvised jokes falling slightly flat, Poltergeist have created a humorous and charming piece. Theatre-goers of all ages should attend for an evening of feel-good theatre.