There are two things commonly said about people who live in Southern California and toil in showbiz.
One? SoCalers like seeing films and plays that gently satirize or less gently skewer the entertainment industry. (True.) And two: If you're an actor in town, you only ever work as a waiter between roles. (False.)
Both ideas are impishly prodded, with aplomb and fearlessness, in "Buyer & Cellar," which is on at the Mark Taper Forum through Sunday, Aug. 17. The play, written by Jonathan Tolins and staring Michael Urie of "Ugly Betty," follows an not-acting-so-much actor as he heads to a job in Malibu: working in the re-created shopping mall inside Barbra Streisand's basement.
That's no mere flight of stagecraft or Funny Girl-esque fancy; Ms. Streisand's actual true-life subterranean shopping mall was profiled in Harpers Bazaar in 2010, complete with glossy photographs of a doll shop and a sweet shop.
It's a fun fact about one of the world's most famous women, and a domestic detail too tempting for the playwright to resist. No, Ms. Streisand is not in the play, but her legend is omnipresent.
And Michael Urie? Filling the shoes of a man who'd like to be filling other shoes -- as in acting roles -- while working in Barbra Streisand's below-home shopping mall takes a streak of delightful devilishness and a willingness to be all in. Mr. Urie winks from his vantage point, but doles out the genuine smiles, too, meaning this is both a work of satire and one of real fondness, with fondness ultimately triumphing.
Are you an actor? Have you held some strange gigs around town while waiting on an exclamation point-filled text from your agent? Yeah, this is a common and quirky Southern California experience.