|Jai Rodriguez as Alex Moore |
Photo by Sasha A. Venola
Buyer & Cellar currently at the Falcon is a tour de force performance of a near flawless script by Jonathan Tolins, directed expertly by Dimitri Toscas. It's Jai Rodriguez holding the stage for an hour and a half with a roller coaster ride that is, simply, a Must See.
Inspired by Barbra Streisand's book "My Passion for Design," whether or not Tolins' story is true or not, the story comes to life with a nudge and a wink as Rodriguez (as Alex Moore) enters from the house making sure the audience understands that this is a "work of fiction." That said, the checkered career of Alex Moore, including employment at The Magic Kingdom!.. unfolds with a cast of at least five other characters smoothly brought to life with precision by the actor. Adam Flemming's spare but versatile set becomes, with easy lighting changes by Nick McCord, various locations, most notably the downstairs 'shopping mall' created by Alex's Malibu employer to pretty much enjoy on her own. Alex's job is to literally mind the store: the yogurt machine, the popcorn popper and to dust the myriad of collectables that reflect the exquisite and very expensive tastes of the actress, director, singer and interior designer who has enjoyed seven decades of her career: Barbra!
As Alex settles into his employment in Streisand's cellar, a "perceived" friendship develops with the star. Transitioning easily from one character to another, from storyteller to the supporting players with a simple gesture and change of voice, we find ourselves adoring the character and feeling sorry for her as she confesses that all she has ever really wanted was "to be pretty."
Rodriguez never drops a stitch as the story flows along.
It must be noted that even with the standard request by the preshow announcer to turn off all electronic devices, a phone lit up in the lap of the woman seated directly in front of me. As we are, all of us??, becoming slaves to our electronic leashes, the days of courtesy in public seem to be dwindling away. It may be cruel to call this woman a 'jerk!' Who knows what the emergency might have been, but had she done as we were asked, the phone would not have intruded.
When we go to a movie or a play, I think it's to escape the 'real world' briefly to abandon disbelief and immerse ourselves in the play or the film. If we find it not to our liking, then we are free to excuse ourselves. I hope the woman felt a bit of shame as I leaned forward and asked her to turn her phone off.
To be dragged out of the play by rude behavior is simply wrong. I hope that we never become a society of rude "jerks" constantly linked to the ever intruding iPhone or other devices which ruin a performance for an entire theatre full of folks who have paid admission to suspend our disbelief and immerse ourselves in the the argument of the play.
Buyer & Cellar is a well constructed, funnier than anything: poignant and kind tour de force: an evening to remember. Don't miss this one!
Buyer & Cellar
by Jonathan Tolins
4252 Riverside Drive
Through November 6, 2016
Tickets and additional information