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BWW Review: Hilarity with Babs in Seattle Rep's BUYER & CELLAR

Scott Drummond in Buyer & Cellar.
Photo credit: Chris Bennion

We've all had demanding bosses over the years. Hell I had a manager who insisted I go around the office and set all the clocks to the exact same time. But what happens when you're working for an actual Diva? Well, Jonathan Tolins' hilarious play "Buyer & Cellar", currently playing at the Seattle Rep, takes that on brilliantly and the Rep production completely shines.

Tolins' fictitious play is based on one true thing, that legendary Singer/Actress/Director Barbra Streisand has a mall in the basement of her Malibu home where she displays the various treasures she's accumulated over the years. No really, she discusses it in her book "My Passion for Design" where she talks about ... well ... her passion for design, specifically the design of her Malibu home. There's a doll shop, a clothes shop, an antique shop, a gift shoppe and even a frozen yogurt shop. So this is where the truth of the play ends as Tolins goes on to examine the hypothetical situation of the one and only employee of the mall whose job it is to cater to the lone customer of the mall. And so we meet struggling actor Alex More (Scott Drummond) who takes the job after being fired from Disneyland due to an issue with one of the younger guests involving some harsh words and a churro. Alex regales us with the story of working for and eventually befriending the legend, which throws his personal life into a tailspin.

This Off-Broadway hit beautifully takes on the price of fame and what happens when mere mortals get too close to the stars. Tolins has already proven himself a superb writer with his other hits such as "Twilight of the Golds" and "The Last Sunday in June" to name a few and has a wonderful gift for dialog and story. But here he shows how well he can manage moving the story along with monologue as well as the entire 90-minute saga is done with just one actor. And director David Bennett has cast one incredible actor and paces the piece perfectly.

As the actor playing the actor working for the Diva, Drummond keeps complete command of the stage for the entire show beautifully. And the layers and nuances he's infused into the character are magnificent. He keeps the character (and in fact all of the characters he plays) from ever becoming single note clichés but rather complex humans grounded in reality. Sure the situation may be fictional and bordering on absurd but Drummond keeps it so real that you'll find it necessary to keep reminding yourself it never happened.

This is one of those wonderful plays that will keep you highly entertained and rolling with laughter for the full 90 minutes but then will sneak up on you and give you that little kernel of truth and meaning to ponder on the way home. And so with my three letter rating system I give "Buyer & Cellar" a gorgeous YAY that's just like butter. You'll swear you were down in that basement with Babs yourself by the end. Do yourself a favor and catch this one before it's gone.

"Buyer & Cellar" performs at the Seattle Rep through November 22nd. For tickets or information contact the Seattle Rep box office at 206-443-2222 or visit them online at www.seattlerep.org.



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From This Author Jay Irwin