In 2010, Barbra Streisand published a book, “My Passion for Design” picturing and extolling the wonders of her Malibu estate. In it she described the shopping mall in her basement. Ah yes, a street of shops, the sort you might find in a Disney theme park. This is true. What takes place on this stage is imagined. It’s a sort of quirky fairy tale, a whacky and wonderful one-man show written by Jonathan Tolins and featuring the highly talented Scott Drummond.
Drummond as Alex More, an unemployed gay actor, is broke. So what’s he to do but apply for the job when he learns that Barbra wants someone to serve as a sort of museum director cum shopkeeper in this underground fantasy world? Who better than an unemployed actor, a gay unemployed actor? He swears he’s not a Barbra Queen, but admits to feeling rapture at the idea of actually being in her house.
And so begins his strange and lonely odyssey which he describes in hilarious detail to the audience. Drummond plays a guy you’ve known for a long time. He immediately succeeds in becoming your good friend who’s delighted to be able to tell you this great story. He reminds you that out of work actors will grab almost anything that comes along, and what better than a job with proximity to Hollywood royalty. And he’s here to remind you that this royal being is true to herself and doesn’t hide her past or imperfections. Yes she’s from Brooklyn, grew up with a mother who withheld love, and has a big nose. Yes she’s not considered pretty, but she’s “Barbra” and don’t forget it.
She actually comes to her cellar mall and establishes a relationship with Alex. Drummond with just the turn of his head, a pursing of the mouth, and a change in posture become Barbra and effectively carries on conversations with Alex. It’s a terrific bit of acting, directed by David Bennett.
There’s a poignancy to the relationship between the gay guy and the not so pretty super star. Both have had to steel themselves against the wounds society inflicts, but this is not a play designed to explore social injustice. Yes, we’re all struggling to make perfect our world, and this hilarious, whacky, campy and absolutely charming show explores how two people attempt it.
Through Nov. 22 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St., Seattle, (206 443-2222 or www.seattlerep.org).