Actor McBean “Fully Committed” to Multiple Roles
By Patricia Morris Buckley
Anyone who has worked at an upscale restaurant will appreciate Cygnet Theatre’s “Fully Committed.” Oh heck, actually any theater lover will enjoy this seamless, hysterical and perfectly acted 75-minute, one-man show, which is an excellent way to end Cygnet’s run at its Rolando theater (all its shows will now be presented at its Old Town theater).
First, a little history lesson: David McBean has starred in this show for Cygnet several times, so it’s little wonder that his performance is dead-on. But that Cygnet has brought the production back so many times is a testament to McBean’s amazing handling of Becky Mode’s slight but highly amusing one-man play.
The real joy of the show is watching the actor play 40-plus characters, often at blazing speeds, to the point where you believe there are multiple characters on stage. The center of all this chaos is aspiring actor Sam Peliczowski, who works taking reservations at the snobbiest restaurant in New York City, and all the quirky characters calling in for reservations or to complain, bribe or abuse him. There’s Naomi Campbell’s flaky assistant, several upper-crust Manhattanites, other VIPs and clueless out-of-towners who don’t realize there’s a two-month waiting list (or, as the chef prefers to say, “fully committed”).
Of course, this is the day his co-worker decides to not show up, the chef is in a bad mood (although chefs are notorious for being in bad moods) and a few unexpected surprises join in to make the day an absolute train wreck. He even is coerced into cleaning the women’s room after a guest has an “accident.”
What ties this story together and gives it a slight arc is that Sam desperately wants two things: to be able to visit his recently widowed father for Christmas and to land a callback for a show at Lincoln Center. The way these two issues are resolved is a bit pat, but extremely funny.
The only problem with the theatrical device of McBean voicing all the characters is that it’s jarring the first time he slips into another voice. While we quickly catch on to the gimmick, it is a little disconcerting when McBean plays one character with his voice while playing Sam with his body (he is both the character making the reservation as well as Sam writing it down).
While McBean’s performance is the real focus of the show, Sean Murray’s set adds a great deal of necessary movement. Sam, wearing a wireless headset, answers three different phones — one on stage left, another on stage right and one center stage.
Murray and Francis Gercke share the directing credits and some of the applause has to go to them. But when an actor inhabits a show as fully as McBean, it’s hard not to give him a standing ovation. That seems fitting as Cygnet’s swan song to its Rolando space.
Patricia Morris Buckley has been reviewing the arts in San Diego for 25 years.
When: Through Sept. 20. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
Where: Cygnet’s Rolando Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego
Info: (619) 337-1525