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Buyer and Cellar
a One Man Show
by Jonathan Tolins

COMPANY : Serenbe Playhouse [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Site-Specific Black Box
ID# 4903

SHOWING : May 19, 2016 - May 21, 2016



“Buyer & Cellar” is a one-man comedy that tells us exactly what it would be like working for the one and only Barbra Streisand in her basement mall! There could be no better location for this than the magnificent Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams showroom in the heart of Buckhead. “Getting to continually bring this show to other places has been a thrill,” says Nick Cearley, star of “Buyer & Cellar.” “Bringing this story to a site specific location like a furniture store in Atlanta is so exciting. The world of the play is so fantastical, I can only imagine the physical surroundings of the store will serve to enhance the hilarious story in ways never brought to the piece before. Following through with Serenbe’s mission statement, I think this play will take it to the next level by putting a bold twist on reinventing a ‘new classic’ play that connects the artistic world to the audience in an even more intimate and creative way. I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Serenbe’s first indoor site specific show.”

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Babs Gabs
by playgoer
Saturday, May 21, 2016
"Buyer and Cellar" tells the fictional story of Alex Moore, a gay L.A. actor hired to work as the sole employee in the basement of a building on Barbra Streisand’s estate in which she has installed a mall with a variety of small shops. (Her basement mall actually exists, and is documented in a coffee table book authored by Ms. Streisand.) The one-man show covers his entire stint there, interspersing anecdotes about Barbra’s life and her fictional interactions in the basement mall with details about Alex’s relationship with his boyfriend Barry. Nick Cearley portrays all the characters.

The production in the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams showroom in Buckhead uses a tiny, makeshift stage and seats the audience on showroom furniture, but there are plenty of forays down cramped aisles into the audience. Mr. Cearley’s audience interaction is nearly as delightful as his energetic, personable narrative. His portrayals of various characters in the story bring in a lot of comedy too. (He indicates Barbra rather than doing a full-on impersonation, but it works just fine.)

Production values aren’t great, as would be expected in a non-theatre environment. Music is quite good, but lighting is a bit intrusive, changing color occasionally as the scene changes. Mr. Cearley has just one unremarkable costume with a sweater he takes off for a brief sequence, tying it around his shoulders to portray James Brolin. The cramped playing space and audience seating is part of the charm, but the intermissionless running time of over 90 minutes can feel long if the luck of the first-come seating doesn’t suit the seat of your britches.

The show is aimed at Babs fans, expecting a familiarity with her love life and career, with a lot of content that could be considered inside jokes by people not familiar enough with the Streisand mythology. (You need to know that Jason Gould is her gay son by Elliott Gould.) There are a lot of California references too. Still, enough is explained that only the most Streisand-oblivious audience would be hopelessly lost.

Mr. Cearley is a charming and attractive performer, carrying the show ably on his sweater-clad shoulders. There’s not a lot of plot in Jonathan Tolins’ script, with the relationship between Alex and Barry driving most of it. (Barry is delighted at first with Alex rubbing shoulders with Babs, but later becomes resentful.) The color of Alex’s hair drives another important thread of the plot, but mostly it’s just a lot of dishing about his life interacting with a cultural icon who also happens to be a real person. It’s fluff, but entertaining fluff. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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