Thoughts & Musings

2nd Story’s ‘Buyer’ offers quirky humor and offbeat plot

Kevin Broccoli sparkles as a struggling actor who gets a job managing a faux department store in Barbra Streisand's basement.

by Channing Gray, Providence Journal
  • 12th October 201512/10/15
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2nd Story Theatre has cut back on offerings in its new downstairs performance space while it undergoes some renovations. But it has made an exception and opened up the 80-seat theater for a quirky one-man show that has turned out to be a gem.

And a big reason for that is Kevin Broccoli’s sparkling performance as a struggling actor who gets a job managing a faux department store in Barbra Streisand’s basement. True, the premise is a little off the wall, but playwright Jonathan Tolins uses it as a jumping-off point for some wonderful and wacky humor in his “Buyer and Cellar.”

Broccoli proves himself a real theatrical virtuoso as he channels Streisand, hubby James Brolin and his gay boyfriend, among other characters.

Broccoli’s Alex Moore, you might have guessed, worships Streisand, who every now and again shows up in her basement to haggle over such things as a bubble-blowing doll.

For much of the time, Alex is left alone with the drone of the popcorn machine, waiting for his idol to appear. But does she like him? Does she consider him a friend?

That, of course, would be nice. But things don’t work out quite the way Alex had hoped.

Still, we enjoy the ride, thanks to Tolins’ snappy writing and Broccoli’s impeccable sense of timing, his knack for getting a laugh. He should have his own late-night talk show.

The press release notes that the play, crisply directed by Lara Hakeem in her 2nd Story directorial debut, is a “flight of fancy based on fantastical fact: Barbra Streisand has a shopping mall in the basement of her Malibu dream home.” But Max Ponticelli’s stark set leaves all that up to the imagination. There are just a couple of chairs in front of a screen where pictures of Streisand and others are flashed.

But Broccoli allows us to wander through this bizarre environment, while managing to hold the room for close to 90 minutes. It’s a brilliant acting job, with a dash of snarkiness and a big gay vibe, all delivered with a quick, mercurial wit that’s never heavy handed.

I know the plot sounds a bit goofy, but really Broccoli is a born clown and the humor is pretty outrageous, two things that make this show a sure bet.

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