Tom Lenk steals the show as the ethereal Oscar-winning actress causing chaos, in Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist at The Bubble (Assembly George Square Theatre).
Hit American comedy Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist opens with Walt, a 30-year-old man in crisis. His Instagram model boyfriend has dumped him, he’s stuck in a dead-end job and Wanda at the take-out place put pickles on his burger despite the fact he specifically asked for no pickles. Walt decides that this transgression is the last straw and decides to swallow a bottle of pills. The bottle has barely left his lips when Tilda Swinton sweeps onto the stage in a flurry of white (complete with avant-garde bubble wrap coat) and the play really begins. The acclaimed Hollywood actress explains that Walt’s ex-boyfriend put an ad on Craigslist to find a lodger for the spare room, and she had answered it.
As she begins unpacking her possessions from a comically large white fluffy handbag, she assesses Walt’s situation and concludes that he would be the perfect protagonist for her next big film. In a parody of Mary Poppins, she pulls a tape measure and measures him from head to food before declaring that the results deem him “tepid”. After realising that Walt is also suicidal, she exclaims “I can’t believe my f**king luck!” and vows to spend the night learning how to play him before allowing him to go through with his tragic plan.
The rest of the play deals with the conflict between the two characters as Swinton deconstructs Walt’s life in order to inspire her own performance of it. We encounter his ex-boyfriend, mother and father, who all play a part in his depressive state but are soon revealed to be battling demons of their own.
Tom Lenk, best known as Andrew Wells from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is spellbinding as the dramatic, ethereal Oscar-winning actress. He’s campy to the nth degree and exhibits incredible comic timing. Spending a lot of the show monologing, his “to camera” moments are little short of genius – though the energy does noticeably drop when other characters take centre stage. Unsympathetic and irritating at times, Walt and his cohort feel like archetypes who mainly serve to facilitate Lenk’s magnificent performance. But really, who can blame the production for playing to its strengths?
Overall, Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist is a dark, riotous romp – full to the brim with industry references and topped off with a star who could rival the great Ms Swinton herself.