A ‘wide-eyed… musing on truth’, Poltergeist Theatre’s new production at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Lights Over Tesco Car Park, is set to be a sweet and genuine exploration of stories surrounding alien sightings and abduction.
Sitting down with director Jack Bradfield, we discussed the nature of this ‘docu-comedy’, a production that uses the mode of verbatim theatre but alters it, using their own take on science fiction (with no budget) to tell a variety of stories in a ‘silly Brecht[-ian]’ fashion. The focus of the play is a man in Oxford who believes he met an alien, and was later expecting the extraterrestrial to stay at his house. Dotted across the show are other stories from across the globe including the Vilas Boas Incident in Brazil. Having worked on the production for 9 months, Bradfield discussed how the first rehearsals included a ‘radical lack of paper’, and the company’s desire to have a strong contribution from the cast themselves – a method that paid off with the company winning the NSDF Outstanding Ensemble Award.
When asked why Poltergeist chose to pursue the subject of aliens and their interaction with humans, Bradfield commented that the discourse on aliens is ‘like a playground for communality’, something for us to understand how we as humans act, and to consider how we relate the stories of peoples’ experiences. Bradfield describes the play as ‘energetic and youthful’, with the script sounding reminiscent of their previous Fringe show, XX (‘Kiss Kiss’ from 2016), a combination of poignant moments rooted in simple, familiar events, whether that is a meeting for the first time, or a sleepover.
Not only is this celebration whimsy, but Bradfield highlights the ‘friendly audience participation’, emphasising the voluntary nature of this including an invite to be an abductee or the option to choose the stories the company tells. The story -telling nature of the play has been transferred into a game where you, as the gamer, can decide what actions occur within the alien abduction story the game narrates – similar to the ones told in the show. The play won the Samuel French’s New Play Award 2018, but the use of a game as another publicity mode highlights the innovative, engaging nature of the theatre company, promising a performance that will surprise spectators.
On top of this, Poltergeist Theatre’s Sustainability Officer Alice Boyd has used research from her dissertation on the waste that occurs over Fringe to create a movement in tandem with the theatre company called ‘Sustainable Fringe’ which adapts the familiar mantra of ‘Reduce. Reuse. Recycle’.Theatre companies visiting for the Fringe are encouraged to take ‘fringe kits’ with reusable cups and lunch boxes, recycle flyers and posters, and reuse the props, costume and set at the end of a Fringe run. The aim is to create a platform for sustainability initiatives put forward by the Edinburgh Council and other groups, and to generate an awareness of the impact of theatre companies visiting the capital.
Lights Over Tesco Car Park sounds like an exciting, unique fringe show that guarantees an out-of-this-world theatrical experience. A ‘docu-comedy for the post-truth age’.
Lights Over Tesco Car Park
Pleasance Dome – JackDome (Venue 23)
1 -14, 16 -21, 23 -27 August
Image: Giulia Delprato