Bonding with a sophisticated figure is a job unto itself.  It’s hard to imagine anyone better than Christopher J. Hanke putting Babs haters in their rightful place with an outrageous comedy about the true price of fame.



Underground employment is such a drag. The absence of natural light and compromised air flow can be mind-numbing while consumer profiles are definitely not the norm or so it seems.

Yet for Alex Moore (Christopher J. Hanke), a struggling actor trying to make ends meet, this is a dream come true. His basement attendant gig at Bee’s Doll Shop may very well defy logic but it makes him the envy of all other budding performers aching to hob knob with celebrity.

“What I’m going to tell you could not possibly have happened with a person as famous, talented and litigious as Barbara Streisand,’ he explains in the opening scene.  Yet even with this disclaimer, the ‘preposterous’ one man show seems like all of this could have happened exactly as it’s described.

That’s right.  Alex finds himself on the payroll of no other than Babs herself where she’s designed an underground mall beneath a barn on her Malibu estate.  She comes around to window shop, to haggle and sometimes even to socialize.

Alex’s boyfriend, Barry, provides complete support until their relationship becomes jeopardized over a difference of opinion.  Sharon, the woman responsible for hiring Alex keeps an arm’s length distance from the new employee and even a visit from a frozen yogurt loving James Bolin only adds colour to this living fantasy.

If it all sounds a bit kooky, you’re not mistaken.  Buyer & Cellar is hands down one of the most funny and fabulous plays to touch down in our city in a very long time.   Its layers of absurdity easily make you forget about the troubles of the day throughout the 100-minute laugh fest that doesn’t waste a single line.

Much of this credit goes to excessively talented Christopher J. Hanke.  He’s lightning fast on the comic draw, flawlessly parades the ‘privileged and powerful’ woman’s mannerisms and transitions back and forth from various characters with remarkable affluence.

Yet the shades of warmth resonating from the story’s rich text secure a poignancy that cannot be ignored.  Especially when the actor goes deep inside Babs’ emotional wounds highlighting her disappointment of never being told she was pretty while growing up.  These words underscore the frailty of the human condition that triggers unconditional empathy.

Regardless if you are someone’s ‘friend’ or ‘acquisition,’ all good things must come to an end; Alex is no exception to this rule.  As a result, treasured memories will forever light the corners of at least one man’s mind.

Review by Steven Berketo


BUYER & CELLAR by Jonathan Tolins Nov 12 – 30, 2014 PANASONIC THEATRE, 651 Yonge Street, Toronto TICKETS $25.00 – $79.00 416-872-1212 STARRING Christopher J. Hanke DIRECTOR Stephen Brackett SET Andrew Boyce COSTUME Jessica Pabst LIGHTING Eric Southern SOUND Stowe Nelson PROJECTION DESIGN Alex Koch

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