Some shows are a must-see simply because of the title, and Tilda Swinton Answers An Ad On Craigslist is about the best title for a play I’ve encountered in several years of reviewing. Much like the enigmatic and often mysterious titular character, this play is an unusual, baffling, entertaining experience that hits more than it misses and definitely deserves attention.
This play is more than just a witty title.
We join our protagonist Walt (played by writer, Byron Lane) arguing on the phone about his inaccurate burger delivery, which features pickles where there should be none. The action properly kicks off when, just as he has decided to end it all with a bottle of pills, Tilda Swinton (a spectacular turn by Tom Lenk) descends on his apartment and his life like a surreal Mary Poppins from Jupiter. The Oscar-winning actor is looking for a muse for her next project and Walt’s pathetic life is exactly what she needs.
Lenk presents Swinton as a mythical creature, unfettered by the things that bind the rest of us; things like time, space and quantum reality. Lenk regularly breaks the fourth wall and has comic timing and flair that makes his Swinton a strangely believable portrayal, regardless of how bizarrely it’s played. Unfortunately, Lane’s Walt is quite the opposite, an unengaging and limp performance that leaves me wondering if we’re meant to dislike him so much. The cast is rounded out by Jayne Entwistle and Mark Jade Sullivan, who both play multiple roles that manage to each be distinct characters and all bring their own personal issues to the tale.
This is a solid hour of comedy shenanigans and a surreal, contemporary take on modern despair. Although the subject of suicide is played somewhat for laughs, it does show that all it can take is one person caring enough to turn a life around. This play is more than just a witty title.