Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist @ Assembly George Sq

All the hallmarks of a comedy classic, but with none of the drama.

Review by Deborah Klayman | 09 Aug 2018

At the end of both his literal and metaphorical rope, Walt finds himself newly single, suicidal and being pushed over the edge by the delivery of a burger with pickles. Seemingly in response to an ad his ex placed on Craigslist, Tilda Swinton appears to study him for a future role, bringing the absurd right into Walt’s living room.

With writer Byron Lane as the unassuming Walt and Tom Lenk as the titular Tilda, this play has all the hallmarks of a comedy classic. Unfortunately, Lane’s performance lacks intention and sincerity, and the loose plot serves merely as a platform for Lenk’s pastiche of Swinton, drawn as an ethereal diva obsessed with her second Oscar.

There are certainly funny moments in this piece, and almost all rise from Lenk’s dry, arch portrayal of the intense and unusual star. Sweeping on stage in a bubble-wrap cloak before unpacking oddities from a giant handbag, this Tilda is certainly larger than life. Coupled with amusing references to her films, smatterings of a Scottish accent and arranging “takes” with a cameraman selected from the audience, Lenk wrings every comic moment out of the script.

Mark Jude Sullivan gives a strong performance as ex-boyfriend Bobby, who admires Tilda’s self-centred qualities, worrying more about his social media presence than his former lover’s feelings. Sullivan gives a less successful performance as Walt’s pushy father, appearing to double out of necessity rather than thoughtful casting. Jayne Entwistle appears more comfortable in her multiple roles, bringing versatility, energy and intention to her characters: Mom, Siri and Wanda. The text they have to work with is sparing, however, with little to get their teeth into as the focus inevitably snaps back to Lenk.

Ultimately, Walt needs advice to turn his life around, and although Tilda is more intergalactic apparition than agony aunt he gets it, after a fashion. There is fun to be had in this production, but weaknesses in the play itself come from its singular reliance on its star (both Lenk and his Tilda) and a lack of actual narrative or any genuine character development.

Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist, Assembly George Square (The Bubble), 1-26 Aug, 9.20pm, £10-12

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