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Let’s Review: ‘Buyer & Cellar’ a crowd pleaser at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego

David Turner plays Alex More in ‘Buyer & Cellar.’
David Turner plays Alex More in ‘Buyer & Cellar.’
( / jim cox)

• THEATER REVIEW:

Actor David Turner — as Alex More — enters a very simple set at The Old Globe to reveal an almost unbelievable story in a one-man show. He’s holding a copy of Barbra Streisand’s book “My Passion for Design.”

He immediately engages the audience in the story of how an acquaintance turned him on to an opportunity to work in a mall with several unique shops. But this was not any mall; it’s the one in the basement of Streisand’s Malibu home.

Several times Turner repeats, “This is a fictional story,” yet his exuberance in telling and acting it out is so well done, one might believe it is true.

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Alex learns the ins and outs of the position through Streisand’s stern assistant, who vaguely explains the job with cautions about what he will and will not be to the famous actress. Once in the basement, Alex describes the shops, like the antique clothing store with some of Streisand’s movie wardrobe.

There’s also a gift shop, doll shop, and a sweet shop. For a short while, Alex reminisces about his up-and-down life with Barry, as there is nothing else to do in that basement since no one comes there, especially not Streisand. Then one day the door squeaks open and Alex can hardly contain his excitement. Streisand stays only moments checking him out and then leaves. Each one’s loneliness is apparent in Turner’s appearances as both characters.

Playwright Jonathan Tolins’ dialogue is delightfully intriguing, and Turner verbally and physically becomes all of the characters in the story at the turn of a dime, making the most of brilliant retorts.

One of the best moments comes when Streisand plays a shopper interested in buying a doll (which she already owns) in the doll shop. She and Alex barter in a bounce-like tennis game at Wimbledon. Alex loves that she appreciates his tenacity to deny her a sale price. When she returns one day with a ploy to pay what she wants for the doll and not the price Alex chose, laughs burst forth.

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As Alex and Streisand become closer, he finally gets the one thing he’s longed for. But will it last?

“Buyer & Cellar,” a hit off Broadway, is totally enjoyable and made even more entertaining by Turner’s exceptional performances of both happy and sad times through several characters … including James Brolin.


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