THE RESIDENTS OF CRAIGSLISTBy Lucy Cashion and Will Bonfiglio
Millennial Poison Theatre Company
Actor 1 – Ian McGee
Actor 2 – Joel Frapart
Actor 3 – Michael Breath Jr.
Actress 1 – Stephanie Oustalet
Actress 2 – Ruby Pullum
Actress 3 – Jinger Jones
Director – Lucas Haupert
Stage Manager/Sound Design – Dylan Mobley
Lighting/Scenic Design – Alana Henry
Reviewed Performance: 2/15/2020
Reviewed by Jazmin Wilson, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The show features six unnamed characters running around switching personas over and over as they recite the many whacky and unfiltered posts that they collected from the infamous site Craigslist. The show is comprised entirely of these posts, so you can only imagine some of the things talked about. Its hilarity is unmatched with any show I’ve ever seen; the concept is original and impeccably done. A lot of the specific instances I cover in this review may seem really strange out of context, but I suppose that leaves more to the imagination and will hopefully give everyone an excuse to go see this show. It really was that enjoyable.
The theater itself was one of my favorite kinds. It was a black box of sorts with few enough seats for the cast to interact with you and truly be in your face throughout the experience. It’s one thing to be able to see an actor’s expressions, but it is a totally different ball game to be able to look them in the eyes or be close enough to catch when they wink at you. The set itself was simple, composed of two metal garbage cans filled to the brim with trash and a back wall with phrases stuck to it. Among them were “m4m,” “lost connections,” “jobs and resumes,” “rants and raves,” and many more, all featuring a specific forum for Craigslist posting.
The lighting and the sound were simplistic for the most part, so much so that you didn’t quite notice them until they really, really mattered. The lights, specifically, were uniform for most of the show besides a handful of moments where colors would change or they would dim, which was really effective in setting the tone in the moments that made the crowd hold their breath. To continue on the aforementioned topic of the sound, my guest and I realized immediately that the music playing at the beginning was music from the Nintendo game “Animal Crossing,” which was nothing but an exciting detail I remember fondly. When music would play, which was few and far between, it was always at a moment that truly called for it. The songs chosen were always really fitting for the moments and the actors seemed to have their timing down really well when it came down to musical cues.
Now for the part that matters: the actors. It was typical for one person to be speaking at a time, perhaps two, leaving lots of room for the actors not speaking to have a lot of fun in the background. This is what made the show for my guest and I because no matter the monologue being given about grammar or religion, there was always a cast member in the back that could be seen doing some really whacky stuff with another actor or with some of the garbage. I could tell it was fun for the actors, which in turn made it fun for the audience. Watching actors put empty styrofoam cups on their hands and pretend to shoot each other with them is impossible not to enjoy, especially when they’d make eye contact with you or speak directly to you.
Of course, though, there were lots of specific things that certain actors did that I particularly loved. For instance, I enjoyed greatly how effortlessly Ian McGee and Ruby Pullum’s long, tender stories could bring the previously giggly crowd completely to silence in the emotional lows of the show. Pullum, when not expressing the woes of being the side piece long abandoned could be found in the background of the set, punching at an imaginary punching bag during the gym themed “posts.” Jinger Jones’ most memorable moments by far had to be her impersonation of a disco table for sale or her long lesson on the etiquette of sending unsolicited pornographic photos. Joel Frapart, in addition, continuously “snorted coke” off of the aforementioned disco table, i.e., Jones’ arm, which is something I’m honestly laughing about as I recount it. Michael Breath Jr., after expressing his inappropriate longing for the foot long of a tasty Subway employee, (which was my favorite bit,) ran around in circles while enthusing about his newfound love for exercise and “running six miles a day.” Stephanie Oustalet ranted and raved about the inevitable fall of St. Louis if good Christian individuals didn’t step up to spread their faith. The list of favorite moments could go on and on.
So while you may not be able to bring your kids to this show, there is plenty good to be said about it, for it is a thoroughly reflective and entertaining piece of theatre. Whether you’re laughing at or feeling bad for the residents of Craigslist, attending this performance will truly open your eyes to the state of our society as we know it. Behind every post on every forum is a human being with thoughts, feelings, and the need to be validated and heard. A wonderful statement about the sense of human connection and belonging, Millennial Poison Theatre Company’s “Residents of Craigslist” will leave you thinking about every whack job you’ve ever met, online or offline.