The Lost Art of Lost Art, Underbelly Cowgate, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Raspberry Tart Productions
James Hamilton (writer), Lucy Atkinson (director), Alfrun Gisladottir (producer), Sara Hjordis Blondal (design)
Jamie Finn (Lee), Alfrun Gilsladottir (Molly), Baker Mukasa (Norman), Anna Crichlow (Nancy)
Running time

This award winning play by James Hamilton (Scottish Daily Mail Drama UK 2015), is inspired by the extraordinary amount of art heists and thefts around the world.

The "Mona Lisa" was stolen from the Louvre, Paris on August 21, 1911 but recovered after the thief attempted to sell it. Another Leonardo da Vinci was snatched from Drumlanrig Castle during a public tour. "The Scream" by Edvard Munch was taken from the National Gallery, Oslo and another version of the painting nicked from the Munch Museum.

But what is the point of stealing a famous masterpiece if you cannot put it up for auction? Ever since Dr No bragged to 007 about his stolen Goya, billionaire art lovers who want a painting they cannot buy at auction, need to employ expert thieves steal the priceless work for their own private collection. The recent BBC documentary series, Fake or Fortune, was a most intriguing look at collectors, auction houses, provenance and the market value of Art.

In this hilarious, yet on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller, we observe a young 20-something couple, Lee and Molly trying to calm down their friend Norman. He gradually realises what he has managed to achieve. On the floor against the wall is the famous image of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, which he has stolen from The Tate Gallery, where he works. “Norman, you’ve made history – before Breakfast”.

Lee meanwhile is on the phone to an art dealer to start the negotiations. As they know only too well, the true art in a gallery heist isn’t the stealing, it’s the selling.

The economical set design changes from Lee’s flat to a meal out at Nandos restaurant. During black out scene changes we hear recordings of actual news reports describing various art heists in recent years.

At Nandos, it’s a flash back to the planning stage when they persuaded Norman to do the deed. It sounds so easy and plausible - just think, £2 million for a night’s work!.

Baker Mikasa portrays Norman as a bundle of nerves, almost hysterical in tone, as he is being manipulated against his better judgement.

But fully in charge of this dare-devil idea, calling the shots is Lee, played with cool, calculating charisma by Jamie Finn. In stylish black polo sweater and jeans, with floppy blond hair, he has an uncanny resemblance to the actor, Bill Nighy.(25 years younger).

While Lee adopts a more quietly subtle approach in dealing with Norman, Molly has a feisty, aggressive manner. And so we move back and forward in time, between pre and post gallery theft, to illustrate the entire scenario. With the arrival of Norman’s sister Nancy at the flat, it all becomes far more complicated. She’s a smart cookie and does not suffer fools gladly. As is inevitable in the criminal world, thieves fall out, so who can one trust.?

At just 45 minutes, there’s a heck of a lot crammed into the clever plot, good characterisations, surprising twists and turns all played out with light hearted humour.

If you’re a culture vulture who knows your Monet from your Munch, “The Lost Art of Lost Art” is a sharply written, witty spoof of an art heist movie – “The Thomas Crown Affair" meets the "Pink Panther", performed with pacy panache by a talented young company.

Show times
6- 30 August, 2015 @ 3.10pm. (not 19th).
Ticket prices: £9.50-10.50 (£8.50-9.50)