‘Missed Connections’ Misses the Mark

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“Missed Connections” reenacts the section of Craigslist in which people try to find others online when they missed them in real life.

By Lizzy Essiedu, Contributing Writer

It seems like a pipe dream of an idea that the uncomfortably weird yet well-known section of Craigslist, Missed Connections, would ever be made into something that could be performed in front of a crowd. But in the city of dreams, anything is possible — including this bizarre dream no one seemed to ask for but were given anyway.

At the intimate Kraine Theatre, the show “Missed Connections” is described in its program as “an exploration into the online postings of desperate romantics” through the world of standup comedy and improv. The individual performances of the show differ in that a new guest star is featured each night from television, film and broadway. On Oct. 18, NYU’s own Natalie Walker (Tisch ’13) was the guest star.

The show was a mystery from the get-go. There wasn’t a lot of description to accompany it, so the assumption of the audience was that it would operate like a traditional stand-up performance. However, the show was something else entirely — an experience all its own.

On a positive note, the cast stayed very true to the subject matter by reading actual missed connections from Craigslist. This use of real entries gives the show an authentic feel. The posts were sometimes hilarious, sometimes creepy and other-times nonsensical beyond words. Through expert use of animation the cast portrayed the many different faces of Craigslist users and stayed true to the cringe-worthy nature of the notorious Craigslist section. The most successful parts of the show were when the actors improvised and actually interacted with the audience, pulling them into the crazy, wacky and inappropriate world of missed connections.

On a more negative note, the show was oddly structured. The individual missed connections were broken up into different collections of seemingly unrelated personal ads, but it takes about six collections before any pattern becomes clear. Throughout the show, there is not any emphasis on this structural choice, nor is there any distinction between the collections, which leads the production to feel like an unorganized jumble of readings.

Some of the characters had noticeably inaccurate accents, which begged the question of why the writers associated certain types of people with certain types of accents simply based on what they had written online. Due to this inaccuracy, the accents failed to add anything to the performance.

Moreover, the performances overall felt slightly off. The actors read directly from tablets, which completely disconnected the audience from the narrative. This choice felt very unprofessional. Even though it wasn’t a traditionally structured play, the key comical phrases of each missed connection excerpt should have been memorized so that the audience could experience the full energy and absurdity of it came to what was being said. Instead, the performance was thrown off balance and most of the energy and subtle mannerisms went into the tablets instead of the audience. Several of the actors would laugh at their own comedy or laugh at the previous reading, breaking the authenticity and the concentration of the audience.

The actors were too aware of how crazy the readings were and their consciousness interrupted the performance. The missing connections they read were from actual people who wrote and believed their words in all seriousness. The notion that people believed these absurd statements was the root of their hilarity, and when the actors played them off as a joke, they fell flat. The actors’ collective choice to laugh at the missed connections, rather than convincingly embody the characters who posted them, made the performance more of a giggle session than a genuine presentation of comedic material. Though the rich concept had the potential to be a very funny show, with such a rich comedic concept and material, “Missed Connections” definitely missed the connection with this performance.

Email Lizzy Essiedu at [email protected]