Saturday, 17 October 2020

REVIEW: Buyer and Cellar at Above the Stag

Originally performed by Michael Urie, Buyer and Cellar premiered in the US in 2013. Written by Jonathan Tolins, the show is told by Alex More, a struggling actor, in a one-man play. More tells us about the story of when he got a job working in Barbra Streisand’s basement that she has transformed into an idyllic shopping mall to house the spare possessions she has collected over the years. His story splits between his interactions with Babs herself, her husband James Brolin, Streisand’s housekeeper and his own boyfriend. 
Buyer and Cellar was meant to play its run in March at Above the Stag, but due to the global pandemic it just missed its press night. So it is the natural choice for the theatre to make its come back with! In terms of the measures the theatre have adapted to ensure its patrons safety, its been pretty well looked after. Social distancing was very thorough and with drinks being delivered to your seats they really have gone the extra mile to not only ensure everyone's safety is top of the list but also your comfort. In this fairly new building, its a very comfortable and spacious venue which is perfect for adapting to the measures for everyone's well keeping. 

Starring Aaron Sidwell who people may know best from Eastenders but is no stranger to the stage with numerous musical, play and Shakespeare credits, he brings to life Alex and all his counterparts with such an effortless flare. His character switches were by no means impressions or caricatures but his physical changes and slight vocal shifts define each and every person well enough for us to become familiar with them all. As a one-man play, the whole thing rides on him and he really does pull it off, making the hour and a half performance fly by. 

With the help of Tolins fast and witty text, Aarons Alex is sassy, bitchy and humorous but all quite subtly, never does he cross the line of being satire or parody like. Its a believable and loving performance. 

The design of the piece is also very elegant, David Shields has designed a simple but intricate set which is very well adaptable to each location and situation which is incredibly well decorated by Stacey Sandford’s lighting design. A modern look that elevates the piece but certainly does not distract from Sidwells very well-acted performance. 

The play itself could be cut slightly, this kind of performance would be a perfect 60-minute piece and even though Sidwell, along with Andrew Becketts direction, move the piece along very swiftly my feeling is that parts could be shaved to really perfect this piece. 

Is this piece going to change the world? No. But its a lovely escape into this fantasy world that is easily believable, even though we’re told otherwise. A unique piece with a strong lead actor that’ll encourage escapism in this bizarre world we’re living in right now. 

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★★★ 

Price of Ticket: £25
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