So, how can one focus on a story that hasn’t been told about Barbra… well, you just make it up. And that is exactly what playwright Jonathan Tolins did.
Buyer and Cellar is a campy, over the top, at times touching, adventure through the row of shops located in Barbra’s basement.
This part is literally true – there is a basement and it does indeed contain specially built shops to house Barbra’s many, many, many belongings.
Tolins poses a rather cheeky idea, “what if someone actually worked in the shops AND what if Barbra herself shopped in them?” And from this, the play is born and hilarity ensues.
Joshua Strachan leads this one person show as Alex, the story’s hero – the chirpy, young out of work actor that agrees to work in Barbra’s subterranean wonderland.
Strachan’s performance is truly captivating – with a chameleon-like level of talent, they masterfully weave from moment to moment, riding the ever shifting highs and lows of the work’s emotional rollercoaster.
Their sheer ability to embody the cavalcade of characters that the audience meets throughout the work is nothing short of mind blowing.
With a mere look or gesture, a fully formed character comes to life before our eyes and Strachan once again commands attention and elevates a sometimes sluggishly long script.
Zachary Dixon’s direction of the work is superb and very clever. They have a deep understanding of the camp aesthetic – leaning into the madness to uncover the deeper emotional journey of the main character and bringing to the surface a grounded and believable world.
Dixon expertly maintains a palatable pace and momentum in this hefty one person show – smart design choices and attention grabbing shifts in tone breathe a freshness to each scene and allow moments to have genuine weight and pathos.
The white finery of the set and the simplicity of the costumes give a wonderful slate for the giddying and joyful lighting to bounce and twirl off.
Sevenfold Theatre Company have certainly made their mark with this production, delivering an utterly witty, sassy and delicious camp triumph.
Buyer and Cellar
The Motley Bauhaus, 118 Elgin Street, Carlton
Performance: Wednesday 9 November 2022
Season continues to 12 November 2022
Image: Joshua Strachan as Alex (supplied)
Review: Gavin Roach