Presented by Holden Street Theatres’ Edinburgh Fringe Award, Veda Hille, Amiel Gladstone in collaboration with The Cultch (East Vancouver, Canada), Richard Jordan Productions (UK) and East Van to Adelaide in association with ZOO
Reviewed 15 February 2022
We’ve all witnessed odd people both selling and searching for the strangest things when we scroll through Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace for a good buy, but do you want what I have got? A Craigslist Cantata takes the weird and wacky characters we share society with to a whole new level in this musical delight, shown digitally at Holden Street Theatres.
Played on the screen in an intimate venue at Holden Street Theatres, do you want what I have got? A Craigslist Cantata is a musical and theatrical production full of short thirty second to two minute vignettes about the utterly ridiculous and almost unbelievable Craigslist ads that can be found online. From “WANTED: One ring neck dove, dead” to “A glass jar believed to contain a ghost, possibly of George Harrison” and “Looking to get rid of a children’s-sized guillotine” – there are plenty of Craigslist posts to entertain. Apparently, you can earn $30 an hour to watch someone sleep ($40 an hour if you dress as an owl), or you can pick up a box of used kitten and cat hats of varying styles (some formal, some more casual) for FREE! If you think you’ve seen some wacky stuff on these Buy, Swap, Sell websites, you’ll find yourself very surprised by what these creators have found within the great, wide web.
Many vignettes involve the performer musically monologuing the text taken straight from the Craigslist ad (which for some feels truly unbelievable), while others also include short songs that have been created in reaction to the ad, providing another level of humour. For one wanted post advertising a room available, the creators have humorously paired select words from the dramatic post with the beginning sequence of Chicago’s Cell-Block Tango (“panties…spam…don’t call back… butt-naked”). For more abrasively written advertisements, the performer and piano both use sharp intonation to convey the no-b******t language of Craigslist posters who have no desire to convey with “time-wasters!”
Another element of the Craigslist website scattered throughout is the “Missed Connections” section, with highlights being a love-struck thief who wants to take a woman he stole from on a date, and a man who is longing for a woman bending down to pick up her Bible, revealing a hot-pink thong/g-string (“is that the thong with which you guard your loin?”)
The digital production, as explained in the short introduction by the show’s creators, saw all performers filmed in I spaces in a theatre in Vancouver, Canada for COVID safety. These were then succinctly edited together to create a visually impressive show as each performer was filmed in front of a black screen (with occasional candles and chairs as props), resulting in smooth transitions throughout the show.
Similarly, the costumes were very simple, as most of the time the performers were dressed in a simple white shirt and black pants. To subtly assist in creating some of the characters, occasional additions would be made, such as a shady hoody for a pickpocket and pigtails, a soft toy penguin, a purple crop top and hairbrush (used as a microphone) for an angsty twenty-three year old. These costume and prop additions are definitely helpful, but almost not even needed. The cast are phenomenal at continually transforming into these strange, lonely, grieving, frustrated and totally real people. The body language, voices, posture, movements – they are constantly changing, building a theatrical character for these real-life Craigslist customers.
At some points the audio is a tad out of synch with the visuals, which was slightly distracting, but it was only noticeable a small amount of the time and is something that should be an easy technical fix.
In do you want what I have got? A Craigslist Cantata we get to know a few of the wacky, lonely, bizarre, frustrated and honest characters that make up society, combined with a deeper, resonating search for human connection within this vast world. You might even find a great deal – who wouldn’t be keen on “Headless Barbie Dolls – free to a good home”?
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Venue: Ruby’s at Holden Street Theatres
Season: 16th Feb – 20 March 2022
Duration: 70 mins
Tickets: $18.75 – $50
Rating out of 5: 3.5