Theatre Review: Buyer & Cellar

I’ve Always Wanted My Own Mall. In Buyer & Cellar, We Can All Live Out Streisand’s Reality

Buyer & Cellar. Christopher Hanke

Christopher Hanke plays the young, hopeful Alex, ‘friend’ and retail employee to Barbra Streisand.

There are three things I realized while watching Buyer & Cellar. One; I have actually never seen a Barbra Streisand movie (Meet the Fokers not included), two; I have a new appreciation for the one-man show and three; sometimes fiction is closer to reality than you think.

It’s amazing how a small detail in a book can become a play and how that small detail can give way to its own existence. I had to double check of course, but it was true, Barbra Streisand wrote a book about design and why shouldn’t her ideal home include a mall in her basement with 100s of antiques and clothing from plays and movies. It all makes so much sense. And then you would need someone to work at the mall, making sure everything is properly folded, cleaned and poised ready for shoppers, well… shopper. And that employee is an unemployed actor named Alex More (Christopher J. Hanke) who ends up taking a retail job in the base of Barbra’s Malibu home.

Buyer & Cellar focuses on the ‘friendship’ that develops between Barbra and Alex and the impact it has on his life, as meeting a store employee definitely won’t affect Barbra much. Like Alex, we all look for some greater meaning, strive to be more than we are and hope that we create meaningful connections with those around us. And, like Alex, most of the time we read too much into simple situations. Don’t worry, I won’t get sappy on you—it is a comedy, but one that has a larger life story to tell. And though the majority of the time you may be holding back that laugh snort, you’ll start to think about the relationships you’ve created in your own life, the environment you’ve built up around you and whether you are more isolated like Alex or Barbra.

The play provided a great night out and its only flaw may have been the length. I felt that various scenes could have been cut or shortened to move the story along faster. Then again, if you’re a diehard Barbra fan (or Hanke fan) you’d want even more details and a longer run time. The Panasonic theatre is great for intimate plays, especially one-man shows. No matter where you sit, you’ll end up laughing and having a great time.

For the non-Barbra fans, it’s okay. She’s not in the play and the concept is just bizarre enough to capture your scifi/fiction brain and yet believable enough to keep you engaged. Give it a try.

For the fans of Babs, I’m sorry she is not in the play and Hanke does not do impressions of her. But if you’re lucky enough, you may find her celebrity look-alike sitting next to you in the audience.

Buyer & Cellar runs at the Panasonic Theatre until November 30th. Tickets available here.

About The Author

René Samulewitsch
CEO: Chief Entertainment Officer
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René Samulewitsch @VIPRene is a globetrotter with a hunger for adventure, but at heart, he will always be an urban tourist with big love for Toronto. When not busy with his day job as a PR strategist, he spends his time exploring the city’s culture and entertainment venues. Rene has a passion for sharing experiences, and truly believes in the power of word of mouth. Favourite place in Toronto: Kensington Market in the Summer as there’s always something new to discover. Queen Street for the urban vibe and King Street to let loose and party.

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