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Friday, January 27, 2012

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

Bree Greig, Veda Hille, J. Cameron Barnett, Selina Martin, Barry Mirochnick, Dmitry Chepovetsky in Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata. Photo by David Cooper.


Another Hit Musical in BC
But is it the next Ride the Cyclone?
by mrAshley
Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata is an aptly-titled production that attempts to capture the experience of using the popular classified ads website. The set is a collage of dissimilar, white-washed lamps which could have each been procured from the Free section of the show's namesake, each hanging above the stage or mounted above.

The score had a couple of memorable melodies and enough variety and repetition to keep the audience engaged.

It seemed to me that though the audience was rooting for the team on stage the production had an under-rehearsed feel. The singers were too frequently searching for notes and many characters were generic. Performances by J. Cameron Barnett and Bree Greig highlighted the evening. Mr. Barnett has a capable and pleasurable singing voice, and what Ms. Greig lacked in note-exactness she more than made up for in role flexibility and stage charm.

However, I thought Selina Martin was largely miscast. Her style, one might guess, is more gritty and thought-provoking but this was not in keeping with the feeling of the rapidly changing, emotionally light and musical presentation. Her bio describes her as musically accomplished, but my impression was that she required additional familiarity with the score. As an aside, I would like to see her in another piece where she can develop a single character rather than in vignettes. Still, her recurring role as a Craigslist Grammar Fascist was consistent and enjoyable. Dmitry Chepovetsky seemed tired, but picked up by the end of the single-act work.

The score had a couple of memorable melodies and enough variety and repetition to keep the audience engaged; it started simple and light but at the three-quarter point it had become several shades darker in tone. If there was a musical expression to be made or lesson to be learned I missed it.

Worthy of mention is the brave and effective decision for the cast to perform unaided by microphones. I recently saw an amped production in the same intimate space and I had wondered if they could have done without. DYWWIHGACC demonstrates it is possible. Organic sound lent an authentic grass-roots feeling to the performance that was appropriate for the content. Never did we lack, even from the rear-most seats, plenty of volume or clarity.

I suspect this show would rate highly amongst nostalgic longtime Craigslist lurkers, and hopeless romantics who indulge in the occasional pity party.

The majority of DYWWIHGACC was accompanied by an on-stage pianist, Veda Hille, who never entered into a stage role, but sang sometimes solo with an attractive if perhaps unconfident voice. A drummer, Barry Mirochhnick, with kit took up the other side of the stage singing basslines slightly lower than his voicebox would allow. Percussion might have been an afterthought, performing sound effects here. Again, the percussionist was in one brief scene but otherwise largely ignored.

Unconfident is how I would chiefly describe the script; which may actually be a positive point when discussing a semi-anonymous loose-knit community. The authors are not unobservant or unskillful, but we did spend an awful lot of time in the Missed Connections category of Craigslist eschewing what may have been some juicier or less sappy topics. I suspect this show would rate highly amongst nostalgic longtime Craigslist lurkers, and hopeless romantics who indulge in the occasional pity party.

The audience gave the performance a slow standing ovation, maxing out at around 70 percent standing after around 20 seconds.

1 comment:

  1. If someone asks you to go see this play, run away, run FAR away. And scream loudly as you run. I don't think I have ever felt more ripped off, having paid $42 for an hour and 20 min. of dull theatre that was touted on most sites as "hilarious" and a "must see"! I had such high hopes going in, as there was such huge potential with this kind of subject matter. It really SHOULD have been hilarious. What a shame.

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