Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist

Tilda Swinton (pronounced Swin-tone): human actress, alien from Jupiter or mystical spirit guide? Perhaps we’ll never know – this show certainly does little to provide us with any answers. Doing precisely what it says on the tin, Tilda finds the eponymous scot arriving rather magnificently at the door of Walt, a young man very much in the midst of a crisis. Post break up, Walt’s ex-boyfriend is advertising a spare room in his apartment, along with some horribly personal and rather offensive details about him. Enter Tilda, the white witch ready to save this young soul.

Easily one of the most original and outlandish pieces on at the Fringe

Tom Lenk has an excellent time playing Tilda, utterly unrestrained and hilarious almost every time he opens his mouth. Dropping in like an omniscient Mary Poppins figure, complete with bubblewrap cape and backwards white shirt, Tilda wastes no time in preparing for her latest role. The project, to be directed by Tim Burton, is based on Walt’s life, and so naturally she must study his character, walk and voice for a minimum of five years – or 20 minutes at the very least. The script consistently toys with the mythos surrounding the titular heroine, mining so many weird and wonderful ideas for the very depths of imagination. Lenk nails the ever so slight Scottish twang and airy drawl, poking fun at Swinton’s many characters and acting grudges – can you believe she has the same number of Oscars as Mo’Nique?

The trouble, however, is that Tilda’s themes are quite a lot more serious than the cast ever seem to let on. The production deals with a range of incredibly important issues surrounding mental health – suicide, parental resentment and social media validation to name just a few – and offers solutions through examples of characters from Swinton’s career. “Recurrent thematic lighting” forces gaudy and fake epiphanies from the characters, and whilst these moments are very comical, they reek of vapidity. The whole feel is that of a poorly constructed American TV show, the superficiality betraying the solemnity of the issues at hand.

Still, Tilda makes no pretence of being anything other than an outrageous late night comedy, and perhaps these problems carry no weight. Overacting aside though, the production is so self confident that it ignores it’s own flaws, missing perfection by a mile. At a certain point, Lenk’s very demeanour garners laughs and big reactions for jokes and gestures that don’t fully deserve them; there is certainly plenty of room to refine the script for more consistent humour. Tilda Swinton Answers An Ad on Craigslist is easily one of the most original and outlandish pieces on at the Fringe, but perhaps a slight redraft should be in the works.

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The Blurb

With sold-out shows at Edinburgh Fringe 2018, Vault Festival London, and across America, Buffy and Instagram star Tom Lenk portrays actress Tilda Swinton as a modern Mary Poppins who finds a depressed gay man on Craigslist and dissects his life for a character study for her next movie role. 'Gripping and hysterical... the queer Mary Poppins LGBTQ people deserve. A modern masterpiece' ***** (Gay Times). 'Hilarious, unforgettable performance by Tom Lenk' ***** (BritishTheatre.com). 'Snort-worthily funny... not hard to understand why this show has become a cult hit' **** (Guardian).

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