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Buyer & Cellar

Note. The reviews are from when Buyer & Cellar played at Rattlestick Playwrights - unless stated.. The show is now playing at the Barrow Street Theatre, where it transferred on 18 Jun 2013, and opened on 24 Jun 2013.

It's the writing. It's the writing. It's the writing.

There is the writing of this hilarious and poignant play and there is the writing of the book My Passion For Design, by Barbra Streisand, on which this play was based. Well, not based actually - perhaps it is more accurate to say this play sprouted from Ms. Streisand's book.

Streisand has a compound, you see, in Malibu. To this compound she added a barn, complete with a mill wheel and chickens: A sort of New England like structure that appeared to be transported in. But the real magic was in the cellar where Streisand has created a street of old timey shops to house her collection of, well, everything. Dolls, antiques, gifts etc all set up with precision and attention to detail that is excruciating.

As explained by Michael Urie, this entire evening is a piece of fiction. He cannot say that often enough. It is based on an encounter that Jonathan Tolins, the author, had with Ms. Streisand who attended one of his other productions and offered him a Kit Kat bar beforehand. He refused and has regretted it ever since. This is his regret turned into homage.

After reading about Streisand's cellar village Tolins decided that a mini mall needed an employee and who better than an out of work actor. Enter Alex More (Urie). And we are off. More takes us on a tour not only of Streisand's home but, more importantly, his relationship with his partner Barry who nearly achieves lift-off when speaking of Streisand. Barry is so close he can taste it and is driven nearly insane that his boyfriend is actually in the same microbial neighborhood as Ms. Streisand.

And soon enough Alex is in the real presence of her Royalness. The encounter is unexpected and brilliant, as are the following sightings. The rich text is enhanced by Urie's delicate performance under the direction of Stephen Brackett. They made the very excellent choice to stay away from a direct imitation of Streisand. With so many men out in the world going to great lengths to imitate her, this team chose instead to give us a fluid image. We get the essence of her the way we might detect a scent on someone passing by. While Barry and Alex are fully formed, Streisand remains elusive.

This is a story in a story in a story. The story of Alex and Barry runs parallel with the story of Alex and Streisand. That the two are connected is what gives this play a connection to reality. That connection is not only important to us; it is ultimately the refuge for Alex.

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.

Get out of the heat and into this theatre for a show you will adore for a multitude of reasons. Bravo indeed.

"A featherweight but irresistible play."
David Rooney for New York Times

"Between the script and Urie, the play makes the sale."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News

"Fantastically funny."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post

"A mean, funny and finally moving one-man show."
Jeremy Gerard for Bloomberg
Review of the transfer run now playing at the Barrow Street Theatre

"Inventive, witty, and pretty wonderful."
Erik Haagensen for Back Stage

"Audaciously original, and I should add, hilariously clever and consummately performed."
Roma Torre for NY1
Review of the transfer run now playing at the Barrow Street Theatre

"The show is never less than amusing, but more shallow than it needs to be to keep us laughing."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety
Review of the transfer run now playing at the Barrow Street Theatre

External links to full reviews from popular press...

New York Times - New York Daily News - New York Post - Bloomberg - Back StageVariety

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