Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata

Dmitry Chepovetsky, Bree Greig, Selina Martin. Photo by David Cooper.

Just what you need: Craigslist ads set to music
A clever, hilarious and completely off-the-wall spectacle

by Chris Lane

It’s the perfect fodder for a musical: Craigslist. Co-creators Veda Hille, Bill Richardson and Amiel Gladstone have harnessed the bottomless pit of quirkiness that is Craigslist to create a gleefully entertaining snapshot of humanity.

Do You Want What I Have Got is a song cycle inspired by real Craigslist ads, and it’s amazing what oddities the creators have managed to dredge up. There are the missed connections that you can relate to until they take a certain turn for the weird, or else just plain unfortunate. There are the personals, with their outrageous requests. And then there are the sale items: some just plain ridiculous, some brimming with intrigue, and some that tell an entire story in just a few words.

The main draw is certainly the humour, but the music is great as well.

Everybody wants something, and we all have something to offer; this show captures people’s desires for connections, for affections, and collections. It’s very funny, but also almost touching at times, in its own way.

The talented cast carries this production, bringing to life a wide array of online characters. Selina Martin stands out as an excellent comedian with a knack for portraying the very kookiest of Craigslist posters. She’s endearing as the lonely vendor of her dead cat’s hats, and unnerving as someone selling a child-sized guillotine. Martin has just the right combination of crazy and earnest for the show. J. Cameron Barnett is charming, while Josh Esptein’s powerful voice seems like a bonus for such a talented actor. Bree Greig is delightful, although her voice isn’t always strong enough to be heard over the rest of the cast.

The main draw is certainly the humour, but the music is great as well. The choreography also adds a lot to both the humour and the spectacle as a whole.

Hanging above the stage are over two dozen assorted lamps and chandeliers, which effectively give the theatre an eccentric, yard-sale atmosphere.

Some of the numbers are definitely better than others, but the best ones are absolute gems. As a song cycle, it doesn’t have a real storyline, but it doesn’t need one. At times I just couldn’t stop smiling at the sheer silliness onstage.

Do You Want What I Have Got is local, as it debuted at Vancouver’s PuSh Festival in 2009, and continued to develop in B.C. for a few years. It can be seen until May 18 at the Arts Club’s Revue Stage on Granville Island. 

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