21st century existentialism is alive and well and living on Craigslist.
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I couldn’t help thinking of Estelle in Jean-Paul Satre’s play No Exit after seeing CBC Radio host and author Bill Richardson and singer-songwriter Veda Hille’s Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata at the Factory Studio Theatre on Sunday evening.
The Purgatory-trapped character in Sartre’s play can only confirm her own existence through the acknowledgement of others, or by checking herself in a mirror.
The random comings and goings and giving and taking and buying and selling on Craigslist are, when seen through Richardson’s gimlet eye, our way of confirming to ourselves that we exist.
It’s not just a brilliant insight into the glue that holds the messiness of the human condition together, but a brilliant show. The seamless 85-minute tapestry of song and dance and occasional monologue is a sort of revue that should probably have been called Craigslist Cabaret.
Director Amiel Gladstone and his six willing performers — musicians (and singers) Hille and Barry Mirochnik and singing, drancing (and instrument-playing) actors Bree Greig, Selina Martin, Daren A. Herbert and Dmitry Chepovetsky — make intimate theatrical magic from the moment the house lights go down.
This is the same gang that premiered the show at Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre last year.
The writing, staging and acting all in their own way walk the microscopically fine line between anomie and faith, and between disillusion and hope. We can laugh at the situations, each and every one culled from free online want ads. We can also laugh at the characters. But the whole is so human and so fragile, that we also end up deeply caring.
Robin Fisher has done very much with very little on her set and costumes, and Kimberly Purtell’s lighting always puts the focus where it needs to be.
From fleeting lusts on public transit to a children’s-size guillotine — “only used once” — there is something for everyone in this show, just like on Craigslist.
And buyer’s remorse is not possible.
The show, a co-production with Acting Up Stage Company, runs at the Factory Studio Theatre until March 3. Details here.