Babs in Toyland

Buyer & Cellar

New York City’s Nick Cearley brings the smiles to Sactown in this production.

New York City’s Nick Cearley brings the smiles to Sactown in this production.

Photo courtesy of B Street Theatre

Buyer and Cellar; 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday; 7 p.m. Friday; 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday; $23-$35. B2 Space at B Street Theatre, 2727 B Street; (916) 443-5300, Through May 9.

Rated 4.0

It’s as if David Sedaris had gone to work for Barbra Streisand instead of Macy’s: A struggling actor takes a preposterous job, not knowing what he’s getting into, or what effect it will have upon him. And a one-man show ensues.

While Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries, about his department-store elf gig, has a nub of truth to it, Jonathan Tolins’ somewhat similar Buyer & Cellar is an almost complete fiction about a guy hired to staff the mall in the basement of Barbra Streisand’s Malibu home. Both are hilarious pieces of absurdist comedy.

In the B Street Theatre production of Buyer & Cellar, Nick Cearley portrays actor Alex More, who has lost his job as Disneyland’s Mayor of Toontown, and reluctantly accepts a job in Malibu Barbie’s Dream House. Before he begins to tell his story, Alex cautions that none of what will transpire actually happened. “You know that, right?” And he’s not going to impersonate Streisand, either. Enough people have done Streisand—“some of them even women”—and so he’ll just deliver her made-up words and the audience can supply the interpretation.

During the course of the story, Streisand comes downstairs to Alex’s domain, where they chat, haggle over the price of a doll she wants to buy (although it’s already hers) and begin to bond—or so he thinks.

In the encounters between the star and her employee, Tolins broaches several important topics: the isolation of celebrity, the narcissism that accompanies stardom, the mark of an unhappy childhood on the adult and even the attraction between gay men and divas. Tolins, though, doesn’t want to explore that heavy stuff. He wants to entertain, not elucidate.

And to that end, director David Pierini, who knows humor and timing better than most, keeps finding the funny and bringing it out.