Fully Committed

Brilliant Acting while on an Actor’s Journey

Gavin Crawford as Sam, an underemployed actor, goes from despair to revenge and on to hope in Fully Committed on the Spriet Stage at the Grand Theatre in London.  He manages to do what every actor wants to do – he takes his character on a complete and satisfying journey.  But that may be the least of his achievements in this play. 

Crawford holds our attention by playing 40 characters in the show – each with a different accent, attitude, and action.  He carries on entire conversations by himself but the audience believes there are more people on stage. 

You’ll remember Gavin Crawford as the annoying, pimple-faced kid character, among others, that he played on the hit TV show 22 Minutes.  His voice will be familiar as the host of Because News on CBC radio.  Now Fully Committed has given him the opportunity to be every crazy character he has ever played, wrapped up in one show.

Sam is an unemployed actor in New York City and, like so many actors, he’s taken a restaurant job to pay the bills while he goes to auditions.  He works in the basement where he answers the phone taking reservations for the very upscale restaurant, which is always fully booked three months in advance.  He also has a direct phone line to the Chef, who we assume is also the owner – an angry, pompous man similar to Gordon Ramsey.  At the same time, he has to respond to the intercom to talk to the maître d’ and others upstairs, and take calls on his cell phone from his recently widowed father and his so-called friend. 

Restaurant customers are on hold after requesting immediate reservations.  These demanding, pretentious people do not care about the food at the swanky restaurant (especially the $250 molecular gastronomy plates which are sprinkled with edible dirt); they care only about being seen in the restaurant.  They even have to be seen in just the right lighting, so Gwyneth Paltrow’s assistant is bringing his own light bulbs to make sure the ambiance suits her.  While dealing with a myriad of ridiculous requests from snobs, Sam takes a call from his friend who has a callback for an audition in a big show, and rubs it in, because Sam had the same audition.  His father calls to make sure he’ll be home for Christmas, the first without Sam’s mother.  Sam checks with the Chef, who gives him more bad news: he has to work.  Then, in the midst of despair, he is told he must clean a disgusting washroom in the restaurant.  But just when his acting dreams are crumbling around him, he has the opportunity for some subtle revenge, and then hope returns.   

Crawford keeps up a hectic pace throughout the 90 minute show.  He has an obvious talent for humour and keeps the audience entertained with his physical comedy and his clever accents, even though the script has no big hilarious moments. 

The only concern is that it the play becomes repetitive – the same irritating characters calling back, with Sam responding in the same way.  It probably could be cut shorter and still have the same impact.

But watching Crawford for the full 90 minutes is a delight nevertheless.  His energy belies his 48 years (yes, I was surprised when I saw that on Wikipedia!).  In fact, the audience is convinced that Sam is in his mid-20s.  And then he is convincing for all the other 39 characters, too. 

Should he be committed for playing 40 characters?  Maybe, but he manages all of them perfectly.  In fact “fully committed” is the very pretentious phrase that Chef has told him to say, rather than using the common words “booked solid”.  Go see Gavin Crawford’s outstanding performance; he is indeed fully committed to it.

Fully Committed continues at the Grand Theatre, London until January 26.  Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593 or visit www.grandtheatre.comNote:  This play runs 90 minutes with no intermission. 

Photo: Gavin Crawford as Sam and 39 other characters in Fully Committed

Fully Committed
By Becky Mode
Directed by Steven Gallagher
Performed by Gavin Crawford
Grand Theatre, London
January 21 to 26, 2020
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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