Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Buyer and Cellar

What a great show. Can’t remember when I’ve laughed so much at a play. Here’s the set up of the play:

Among the first things the actor Michael Urie admits as he addresses the audience at the start of Jonathan Tolins’s Buyer & Cellar is that the premise of the 90-minute one-man play is “preposterous”: “What I’m going to tell you could not possibly have happened with a person as famous, talented, and litigious as Barbra Streisand.”

I hope that stipulation is sufficient to keep the lawyers at bay, because the story that follows is too hilarious, and oddly loving, to shut down. In it, Urie plays all of the characters, starting with a fictional out-of-work actor named Alex More who is hired to staff the underground mall of quaint shops that Streisand has built (really — this part’s true) beneath a barn on her Malibu estate. Mostly he just waits there, in period costume, dusting and sorting and, in frequent asides, arguing with his boyfriend, Barry, about the legend of Poor Barbra: the girl who grew up with nothing nice but emerged as the woman nothing could ever be nice enough for. To Barry, Streisand is the apotheosis of revenge-entitlement gone wild, and the proof is not just in her private shopping center but in her determination to star as “Grandma Rose” in a remake of Gypsy (also, God help us, true). “I hear they’re developing new technology to photograph Barbra via ultrasound through seven layers of Sheetrock,” Barry says.

Urie also adds that he is not going to try and do an impression of Streisand in the play. There are plenty of people who do her really well some of them are actually women. But as the play progresses the impression starts to grow or I should say the over playing of Streisand grows into an extremely funny stereotype of her.

This is part of a review that I think does a great job of summing up the show:
This is one of those productions that remind you why you love theatre. Because it is live magic performed without a net. This is something that could NEVER be made into a film. It is too pure for that. This is an evening of rabbits being pulled out of a hat. You watch it being done over and over, and yet you cannot put your finger on exactly happens. You only know that it does and you are one of the people fortunate enough to see it.

This from the New York Times:
The play could be called inconsequential, ultimately amounting to little more than the anti-aspirational message that who we are is more important than what we acquire. But as a reflection on all of us “struggling to make a perfect little world to fit our life into” it’s a seriously funny and remarkably sustained slice of absurdist whimsy on which both Barbra lovers and haters will be sold.

Here’s link to Playbill with a short clip of the show.

So much fun for a Sunday afternoon.

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