Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata certainly lived up to all it was cracked up to be. Let’s admit it, if you’ve been on Craigslist recently (which I hadn’t, until about 20 minutes ago, when I realized how addictive it is to scroll through the ads), you may be shocked at what some people are posting for – it doesn’t take long until you find one that makes you burst out laughing or shake your head in amazement. But, behind all of the ads is a desire for something, usually human connection, and that is where playwrights Ameil Gladstone, Veda Hille and Bill Richardson took their inspiration for Do You Want What I’ve Got? from.
With the musicians on the stage who regularly joined in with the songs, a bare bone set and props, and simple costuming, Do You Want What I’ve Got? was far from a traditional musical, but I loved the way the show played with the “musical” format. Just looking at the stage presence and blocking of the actors, you would likely assume the show was a grand, melodramatic musical… and then you would listen to the lyrics and realize they were singing about a woman giving away a box of cat hats. The use of grand gestures and subtle parody of recognizable musicals along with lyrics that swung from trivial to touching was an awesome commentary on more traditional musicals. Oftentimes if you attend shows like Anything Goes or Mamma Mia! you walk away thinking it was an enjoyable evening with great music, but what did it mean? What impact did it really have on you, or anyone else in the theatre? Do You Want What I’ve Got? accepted that traditional view of musicals, but played within the genre. It’s entirely possible to attend the show, laugh, enjoy the music and walk away having passed an enjoyable evening, but it’s also possible to walk away having done all of those things and thought about the prevalence of “feel good” musicals and their established conventions.
The other theme I especially loved, and which tied the whole show together, was the sense of loneliness and the repetition of the question “did anyone see me today?” After listening to the Craigslist advertisements in the show and doing some online research afterwards, Craigslist is certainly an interesting reflection on a society seeking connection and going online to try to find it, instead of just – as portrayed in the show – talking to the person next to you on the bus.
Do You Want What I’ve Got? A Craigslist Cantana plays in The Club at Citadel Theatre, February 5 – 23. Tickets are $36.75 – $63.