One of the best Off-Broadway plays from this past year has made it to San Francisco with all its charm and humor intact. “Buyer & Cellar” opened this week at the Curran Theatre and still seems as intimate a one-man show that it was at the smaller New York theatre where its love affair with theatregoers began.
Bringing the show from New York is star Michael Urie, whose charisma helps elevate the riotous and absurdly original script from writer Jonathan Tolins.
Urie plays a multitude of characters as he acts and reacts to the most original story, mixing imagination with reality.
Reality: Barbra Streisand wrote a book entitled “My Passion for Design.” In the book, she details that she has made a mall in her basement as a way to house all of the items she’s amassed over the years.
Creative imagination: “What if” that mall had an employee.
Reality #2: You would have a funny and unique show that features Urie playing that employee as well as Barbra herself as she shops at her own mall, bartering on prices of items she already owns.
With a minimal set and great imagination, Tolins words come out with big laughs and smiles in the hands of Urie, who surprised many New Yorkers when he won awards for Best One-Person Show, beating out even Bette Midler in a show that ironically also evolving around Barbra Streisand.
Urie, who proves there’s life after “Ugly Betty,” plays Alex, a down on his luck actor who takes a job working at the Barbra Mall.
He is so endearing in the role it’s hard not to smile throughout the entire 100 minute show. In scenes in which Alex and Barbra have conversations, Urie does a great job repositioning his body, showing a change in character even before he utters a word. In particular, the scene in which Alex is getting his head massaged by Barbra you forget it’s actually Urie rubbing his own head.
“Buyer & Cellar” is only in San Francisco through Aug. 31 so get tickets now at www.shnsf.com/online/buyer.