One might say that Capital Fringe came a little early to Washington, DC this year. Ambitious emerging theatre company Flying V’s devised work, The Best of Craigslist, is one of those quirky shows that one might expect to see in that yearly theatre festival and it’s a good one, at that. Likely to be a hit with 20-something social media gurus and the general theatergoing population alike, it’s exemplary of the kind of work that can traverse the line between mainstream theatre and social commentary and offer a little something for nearly everyone.
The premise is quite simple. The work leverages actual postings on the popular Craigslist as a basis for a series of 31 monologues, vignettes, and original songs. It’s modern, at times irreverent, and mostly engaging.
With the help of a young but hugely talented cast (company member Katie Nigsch-Fairfax, Britt Duff, Eugene Fertelmeyster, Nick Hagy, Edward C. Nagel, and Megan Westman), the odd characters that frequent the website come to life. We have those searching for partners to play out geeky science fiction fantasies or, more sadly, someone to father a child. We also are introduced to those looking for oddities such as a rusty trombone or seeking to lash out on annoying neighbors, ex-girlfriends, some person who left a dead bird in a mailbox, and would-be burglars.
There are also the many that are desperate to make a connection to anyone, which is the basis for an opening musical number that, while funny at times – and reminiscent of something you’d find in a contemporary musical song cycle by the likes of a lesser Adam Gwon – goes on entirely too long.
The eclectic nature of the skits is part of the beauty of this production, but it’s also the production’s downfall. After about ten posts are presented, you wonder how many more odd characters can be put on display and how they can possibly be all that different from the people we’ve already met.
While I would quibble that the joke is stretched out far too thin at times, I do have to commend the creative team for presenting a nearly comprehensive look at the discussion outlet and finding creative and different ways to present the stories – songs, puppets (designed by Kyra Corradin), and even dances/staged fights (Shannon Musgrave and Jonathan Ezra Rubin, respectively), this show has it all. This clever staging – making good use of Andrew Berry’s multi-purpose set – allows the show to ultimately feel less monotonous than it might have seemed in lesser creative hands. Finally, I have to commend them for putting together a multi-talented cast that has enough talent to make one weirdo a little bit different than another.
While it’s probably not productive to give an overview of all of the skits that worked, allow me to present six highlights.
The memorable Britt Duff is simply adorable as she tries to figure why some random person would leave a dead bird in her mailbox and what to do about it. Listing more than twenty thoughts on the subject, I give her many, many kudos for her deadpan delivery of ideas that range from logical to super, super silly.
Nigsch-Fairfax proves her versatility on numerous occasions. At one point she takes on a straight-laced yet clueless woman who wants to grant her husband’s wish for a rusty trombone. Later, she pleas for someone to introduce her to the cultural phenomenon that is Star Wars with sexual innuendo a plenty.
The Best of Craigslist
Closes June 30, 2013
Flying V Theatre at
The Writers Center
4508 Walsh Street
1 hour, 40 minutes with no intermission
Thursdays thru Sundays
With Hagy’s help, we learn of the desperate lengths that one clueless man might go to attract the attention of an attractive girl in a yoga class. His natural charm and goofy demeanor ultimately won me over with this skit even if it goes on a little too long.
Nagel is particularly heartwarming as an overworked young professional who finds a kitten in a box on his way home from work and writes a thank you note to the person who left it because it sparked a change in his life. His boyish charm and relatable persona are perfectly suited to such a character who is not so different from the many ambitious 20-somethings one might find in our city.
All in all, it is good fun and an excellent way to get us all geared up for the quirkiness that awaits us with the Capital Fringe Festival in July.
The Best of Craigslist by Edward Daniels . directed by Jason Schlafstein. Featuring Katie Nigsch-Fairfax, Britt Duff, Eugene Fertelmeyster, Nick Hagy, Edward C. Nagel, and Megan Westman. Set design by Andrew Berry . Props design by Andrea “Dre” Moore . Costume design by Denise Umland . Lighting design by Kristin A. Thompson . Sound design by Neil McFadden . Puppet design by Kyra Corradin . Fight choreography by Jonathan Ezra Rubin. Produced by Flying V Theatre . Reviewed by Jennifer Perry.