Fun fact: Barbra Streisand has a private antique shopping mall in the basement of her Malibu estate. This news, revealed in the legendary singer/actress’s coffee-table book My Passion for Design, sparked the imagination of playwright Jonathan Tolins. If such a place exists, he reasoned, it has to be staffed. So what’s it like for the guy who works there? What happens when his one customer comes calling?
The result of this musing is the delightful one-man show Buyer & Cellar, which Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre is staging through February 11. It centers on Alex More (Brian McDonald), a barely employed L.A. actor who signs up for the strangest job of his life. Isolated, disconcerted, and bored out of his mind — you can only spend so much time dusting dolls — he is ultimately rewarded with a relationship, of sorts, with the iconic performer.
Tolins’s script is consistently witty, and under Stephanie Coltrin’s direction, McDonald turns Alex into an immensely engaging, not to mention energetic, character. His arms are in near-constant motion as he tells us the story, and he amusingly impersonates the people around him, including you-know-who. A well-crafted piece of entertainment, the play raises interesting questions about the creative ways we attempt to control our environment and the fine line between befriending another person and using them. Is Streisand bigger than life, or just like the rest of us? Buyer & Cellar answers: both.