BUYER AND CELLERBY Jonathan Tolins
The Daum Theatre Company
Alex Moore – Joey Donoian
Director – Ian Bjorklund
Lighting Designer – Scott Davis
Sound Designer – Danny Bergeron
Stage manager – Devon Millre
Prop Designer – Kristin Burgess
Reviewed Performance: 1/14/2017
Reviewed by Mark-Brian Sonna, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The Daum Theatre Company is a newly founded theatre company in the DFW area and makes quite a splash with a stirring, emotionally fulfilling, guffaw inducing production of Buyer & Cellar.
Buyer & Cellar is a one man play about a hapless actor name Alex who gets a job working in the cellar of Barbra Streisand’s mansion. It is known that Barbra Streisand did turn her cellar into a mini-mall with shops to house her priceless collections. This fictional play tells the story of the budding relationship between Alex and Barbra. Along the way we also learn about Alex’s boyfriend and their ever increasing difficulties and deterioration in their relationship. The show is a mix of story-telling and stand-up comedy. It is one of the wittiest scripts written in the last decade because you grow to care not just for the protagonist/narrator, but all the people he talks about and at times impersonates. If done right, this play is a tour de force.
And a tour de force it is.
Ian Bjorklund, the director elicited a glorious performance from Joey Donoian. He also tied in a very strong design team that was able to fulfill his singular vision. The bi-level set allowed what could become a static piece of one man talking continuously for 90 minutes, into a play full of action. This was aided with expert stage design by Kevin Brown. One might wonder why the set is so posh for an actor who can barely make a living, but the reveal at the end, which I won’t spoil, explains it all.
The sound design by Danny Bergeron was fantastic. As Alex tells us the stories they come to life with the aid of buzzers buzzing, doors opening, etc. It all helps the audience visualize the action taking place. Not a single cue was missed, and there was a plethora of them. The lighting done by Scott Davis also helped clarify the various scenes in the play because Alex digresses in many of his narratives, and the light shifts helped define what are the memories from the past versus the present situation as well as locations.
Joey Donoian plays Alex with complete authenticity. At no point did Mr. Donoian appear to be acting. Every line delivered seemed unscripted, as if he was simply excited to tell us the story about what happened to him. As the play progresses it is evident that this is a glorious script because it is full of wonderful metaphors, symbolism, and word play, but Donoian smartly never overplays the rhetorical devices and makes it all seem natural. Even though he mimics the various characters in the narrative he spins, he never does “impersonations.” Every character he presents is filtered through the his point of view, making his performance that much more mesmerizing. We grow to love Alex, and Streisand, and James Coburn, his boyfriend, and even the grumpy manager of the estate Sharon. Yet the only person who is on stage is Donoian as Alex. He conjures up the other characters so well we feel like they are on stage with him. It is truly a bravura performance.
It is a shame that the show is running only one more weekend because this is a show that deserves to be seen. I cannot recommend it enough.
The Daum Theatre Company
120 E Main St,
Grand Prairie, Texas 75050,
Now through January 21, 2017
Performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM. Tickets $16. For information and tickets visit www.DaumTheatre.com or call 972-213-1610.