Buyer and Cellar

  • Our critic's rating:
    Average press rating:
    Friday, March 20, 2015
    Review by:
    Mark Shenton

    Celebrities, we know, live in a parallel universe to the rest of us. And Barbra Streisand - one of the last global megastars in the increasingly fragmented world of celebrity obsession we now live in - no doubt has a more rarefied existence than most. Now playwright Jonathan Tolins - who previously wrote a play called The Twilight of the Golds that Streisand's son Jason Gould once starred in at London's Arts Theatre - has provided an intimate, imagined insight into a part of her Malibu home that she provided a mention of in her 2010 coffee table book "My Passion for Design".

    She revealed there that she has a private shopping mall in the basement, full of little stores like a doll shop, a clothing boutique and a gift shoppe, to house her own collection of memorabilia in.

    She doesn't say she actually goes shopping there; but it is Tolins's hilarious and revealing conceit to imagine that she employs a full-time sales clerk to run it. As played by the utterly marvellous Michael Urie - who also originated the role off-Broadway in 2013 and has been playing it, on and off, ever since - it is at once camp, confiding and conspiratorial.

    We get let into Barbra's world - but also that of an un(der)employed LA actor, struggling to make ends meet after he is fired from working at Disneyland. Uriel switches with quick-silver wit between various characters, including Streisand, and his character's boyfriend and best friend.

    It's an acting tour-de-force, but also a truly touching portrait of the isolation of fame and the penance of working for those that are thus isolated. In the process, it brings us together in a communal celebration of a universal fascination with the really famous.


    "To enjoy this one-man US import you need three things: a fetishistic fascination with Barbra Streisand, total immersion in showbiz and a love of high camp. If you possess all those qualities, you may have a good time."
    Michael Billington for The Guardian

    "Urie keeps this up at a tremendous pace for an hour and 40 minutes, delivering a torrent of clever words and often bewildering references to popular culture. It is impossible not to warm to his enthusiasm and generosity yet perhaps 15 minutes could be shaved from the enterprise without disadvantage."
    Quentin Letts for The Daily Mail

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