Selina Martin (left), Bree Greig, Dmitry Chepovetsky and Daren A. Herbert make up Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata’s fine ensemble.
DO YOU WANT WHAT I HAVE GOT? A CRAIGSLIST CANTATA by Veda Hille and Bill Richardson (Acting Up Stage/Factory, 125 Bathurst). To March 3. $35-$47. 416-504-9971. See listings. Rating: NNN
Veda Hille and Bill Richardson's song cycle created from Craigslist personals is pretty much what you'd expect. It occasionally clicks, but its effects are fleeting; on you move to the next item - just as you do online.
The sung-through show offers slices of life about people looking to buy, sell, share or barter just about anything, from the morbid (a child's guillotine) or the bizarre (free sponges, left on a porch) to the kinky (one man will pay you to enter his apartment and bathe in a tub of noodles).
Hille (who also plays piano and adds vocals) and Richardson draw us in by focusing on the cute and eccentric, like the 20-something young woman living with her parents who wants to sell off items in her childhood room, or the lady who wants to get rid of her dead cat's hats.
But gradually more poignant stories are told, like that of a lonely woman at a Starbucks who's obsessed with missed connections, and the man who wants to exchange homemade chili for weed - and, if the guy's interested, maybe share a coffee while they're both wearing underwear (but he's "not gay").
Some pieces don't work, and while a troubling theme runs underneath about how sites like Craigslist reinforce our alienation, the piece could be darker and deeper.
Monica Dottor's choreography is lively and imaginative (the Cellblock Tango-esque number the only misstep). And there are inspired directorial touches by Amiel Gladstone, like having the group play instruments at surprising moments.
The ensemble is across-the-board terrific. The sweet-voiced Bree Greig hits some lovely emotional notes, Dmitry Chepovetsky adds great physicality to his songs, and Daren A. Herbert (Dora Award-nominated for Parade) makes each one of his sequences pop with something unexpected: a sly look, a vocal flourish.
Most affecting is the husky-voiced Selina Martin, who will break your heart as a woman who's fed up with life and wants to be "flagged for removal."