Alex More (Ben Gerrard) has just been fired from Disneyland and this out-of-work actor needs a job. Then the most amazing offer lands in his lap. Arrive daily at Barbra Streisand’s home and act as a salesperson in a fake shopping mall that has been built under her house…. in a mall designed by Barbra to show off all her clothes and collections… in a fake mall that only she visits… on rare occasions. This is the silly, fantastical story that Jonathan Tolins has dreamt up and Ben Gerrard brings to life on the Ensemble stage.
Buyer and Cellar is so full of camp jokes and Jewish jokes that it, in the wrong hands, could easily slip into a big, bad, camp, stand-up routine. But director Susanna Dowling and actor Ben Gerrard have been meticulous in they’re crafting of Alex and his story. The result is a funny, witty and warm production.
Gerrard never lets the affectations overwhelm the character but he does not shy away from them either. He balances a lovely warmth, with a cheeky wit. Sharing jokes with the audience and bringing us into his crazy little world. Tolin’s Barbra is a perfectionist in everything. She is quick to temper and does not suffer fools lightly… or anyone for that matter. She is never good enough and not pretty enough, insecure, demanding and endearing. Gerrard brings her to life with a simple tweak to the accent and his mannerisms. They are subtle, there is no intention to impersonate. Which is exactly how it should be. This is Alex’s story, so you simply need enough changes to allow the audience to follow as he swaps characters. And we do. Gerrard effortlessly switches between all characters, sometimes giving us both sides of a conversation. At no point are we unsure of who is speaking or what is happening. It’s what makes this show fly – that and great story telling with a touch of showmanship.
Charles Davis‘ design is simple and sophisticated. A pink chaise longue sits centre stage with a small side table holding THE book, My Passion for Design, Barbra’s 2010 book that inspired the whole story. Mirrors and curtains provide the backdrop. Alex Berlage‘s lighting design is spot on. Sudden changes of state easily transport us, column lighting either side of the mirrors maintain the elegance of the room and a moving spotlight slowly descending the stairs when ‘Babs’ arrives is a wonderful touch. Marty Jamieson‘s sound design pops when it has to but otherwise stays supportive in the background. Renata Beslik‘s costume is exactly right.
Buyer and Cellar is funny and charming. Sit back and enjoy.
See performance details below
Lynden Jones – Theatre Now & On The Town
06 Oct – 12 Nov 2017
Venue: Ensemble Theatre
Theatre Company: Ensemble Theatre
Duration: Approx. 90mins (no interval)