Thursday, May 22, 2014

New York, Day Seven - "Buyer & Cellar"

"Buyer & Cellar"

If ever there was a dream job for the stereotypical gay man, you couldn't get much dreamier than working as the only clerk in a series of "stores" in a shopping street built in the basement of Barbra Streisand's multi-acre compound in Malibu.  In case you didn't know, this is a thing that actually exists.  Barbra, rather than just storing her extra things in boxes in the basement, decided to create an environment not unlike a quaint shopping mall where all of it could be on display.

From this one true thing, playwright Jonathan Tolins has fashioned a fantasy about an out-of-work actor stumbling into the very odd job of dusting and arranging the thousands of items in the "stores" - and occasionally interacting with the great lady herself.

There's no deep subtext or message here - though there are themes of power and ambition (or lack thereof - but I don't think Tolins was trying to make any other point besides "Isn't this a funny idea? Imagine if..."

Tolins's wit, however, is meat enough to make this a full meal.  His satire (of Hollywood pretension and power plays and perfectionism) is scalpel-sharp.  Even though Tolins states clearly in the first minutes of the play that this is all fiction, the text is full of insider references that feel very true-to-life.

Christopher J. Hanke is excellent in the role of Alex More, the down on his luck actor who scores this crazy gig, although I wished I'd had the chance to see Michael Urie as Alex, given all the praise other critics and audiences threw his way.

Fortunately for most of you, Michael Urie is taking the show on tour, and it will hit San Francisco later this summer.

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