Do you want what I have got? a Craigslist Cantata

Craigslist cantina adelaide fringe 2022★★★★

Adelaide Fringe. Veda Hille and Amiel Gladstone. Holden Street Theatres. 23 Feb 2022


Creative director Martha Lott of Hindmarsh’s Holden Street Theatres has innovated again. Using loot from the Holden Street Theatres’ Edinburgh Fringe Award, she had brought to Adelaide four 70-minute film renditions of theatrical productions emanating from Vancouver, Canada, that were first shown at the 2021 Edinburgh Fringe, and called it the On Screen Program. In today’s Covid-compromised world, this is another way to see world-class theatre as it can’t always come here by Qantas. Lott makes the viewing experience a very comfortable one with widely spaced comfy chairs - and side tables for your dinner and drinks purchased on site - facing a wall-mounted screen in a lovely room of a Hindmarsh heritage home.


Call me a luddite, but I never heard of Craigslist. It’s a comprehensive way of connecting with people about all sorts of things: buying and selling, jobs, housing, discussion forums, community events including rants, etc. I looked it up for Adelaide and it’s under-utilised compared to what I saw on the Vancouver site. I quickly found this little gem, “To lady who bought us hot chocolate at Timmy's on 8th Avenue in New West thank you very kindly that was so sweet of you and may I say you are one attractive lady.” Now take this nugget, make a song out of it, visualise it for theatre or camera and multiply by 100, and you have the crown jewels of a wonderfully whimsical show. Bravo!


In our Covid-compromised days, Craigslist would have been a terrific outlet for the locked down and lonely (and also the prowler as my example could indicate, but this show doesn’t go down dark alleys). Writer, musical director and producer Veda Hille is classically trained and is the pandemic artist-in-residence at The Clutch in Vancouver. This project, a collaboration with Bill Richardson and Director Amiel Gladstone, is one of a few to get the company through. The production values of single performers shown in isolated squares of black stacked together like unconnected apartment dwellers epitomises the sadly sweet people driven in droves to the Craigslist community. All the songs are of the musical theatre variety keying off the quirky posts.


The performances without exception are of top quality that speak with body language, props, eccentric accoutrements, fine voices and zany personalities to match the material garnered or interpreted from Craigslist postings.


This production is entirely covid-influenced in choosing the Craigslist community as its topic, devising a production style to reflect quarantine, creating the show with social distancing in the studio and filming it for export. Craigslist is a lesson in how to make theatre about isolated people in a way where nobody sees anybody and then to show it around the world without leaving home. Bravo!


The other three shows of the On Screen Program are: Inside/Out: A Prison Memoir, 1 Hour Photo, and The Darlings: A Provocative Evening of Drag from Vancouver.


David Grybowski


When: 15 Feb to 20 March

Where: Holden Street Theatres