An exceptionally well-rehearsed storytelling act that mixes projection, recorded phone calls, re-enactment and audience interactivity, Poltergeist Theatre’s Lights Over Tesco Car Park is offbeat, charming and touching.
Poltergeist Theatre’s much-hyped, and Samuel French new play award-winning, Lights Over Tesco Car Park charts how the cast (the researchers) got in touch with a guy called Robert – who apparently saw an alien, or at least a red light in the sky that split into four, while walking past a Tesco one evening. Intertwined with tales of other historical abduction accounts, the ensemble jump back and forth between different narrative paths – looking, in their own offbeat and charming way, at the power and importance of belief.
As you enter the JackDome, the four-person ensemble run around greeting people, making jokes and offering homemade brownies. I, for one, do love a pre-set (and if it involves chocolate, I’m all yours). What follows is nothing short of an exceptionally well-rehearsed storytelling act that mixes image projection, recorded phone calls and re-enacted events. All sorts of props are picked up from the sides, but it is the instances of audience interaction where Poltergeist Theatre most show their strength and expertise. I won’t say anything more about the plot to avoid spoilers, but expect a lot of audience participation (especially if you are in the first few rows). But it’s absolutely not compulsory and the company are so charming that you won’t mind it even if you usually hate it. Highlights include drawing aliens, experiencing an abduction while being blindfolded and eating flying saucers.
And as enjoyable as it is to talk about aliens to the sound of techno music (yet another one of my favourite moments), the thing that touched me the most was Lights Over Tesco Car Park‘s exploration of what it’s like to be human, to feel lonely and to crave for some sort of connection. Whether that’s with the same, or a different, species. The vital role that the audience plays in literally (re)creating some of the events feeds directly into that exploration and we see it also through the characters themselves, as one of them is struggling to get a date with a cute box office boy, while another is upset for being picked last as part of a game.
The end (without giving away too much) is a final climax: a release, a literal contact with an alien (although not everything could be as it seems). Does it matter? Does it change what we have experienced and enjoyed throughout the show? I don’t think so. It was a nice ride: to be “abducted” by the company for an hour.
My only problem with Lights Over Tesco Car Park is that it has set the bar ridiculously high. I kind of feel sorry for all the others that are coming after this. I really really loved it. Make sure to catch it before it inevitably sells out.