Commitment to excellence

  • Kraig Swartz in “Fully Committed” playing at the Peterborough Players through Sunday. Photo by William Howell

  • Kraig Swartz in “Fully Committed” playing at the Peterborough Players through Sunday.  Photo by William Howell

  • Kraig Swartz in “Fully Committed” playing at the Peterborough Players through Sunday. Photo by William Howell

In the Reviewer’s Chair
Published: 1/21/2019 7:50:14 PM

“Fully Committed” is a one-man show by Becky Mode which tells the story of Sam, played by the continuously astounding Kraig Swartz, who works a thankless job answering phones and book reservations for the hottest restaurant in Manhattan when he would much rather be an actor. Throughout the course of the play, Sam deals with numerous unruly customers and a set of co-workers who are just as unbelievable. From a woman who bursts into continuous hysterics, to the chipper personal assistant of Gwyneth Paltrow, and even to a French Maitre d’ who refuses to answer a woman’s phone calls because “she’s so ugly...she has a face like a catfish” Each character is delivered with finesse and a distinct personality. All of them, of course, voiced by Swartz.

Kraig Swartz, who has played the role of Sam several times before in various productions, earning awards in both Philadelphia and Michigan for doing so, is positively entertaining. Sam is a man who is trying his best and through a wonderful arc of emotions, we feel real sympathy for him. We also feel perhaps real disdain for his boss, a chef who makes ridiculous demands and continuously barks orders, and real sadness for his father who only wishes to spend the holidays with his son.

As for the design elements, everything works brilliantly together, but the set is a standout piece. The play, which is one act and roughly an hour and a half, takes place in a single basement office and you can tell by looking at it just how hectic a place it is. From the tangled mass of wires under the table, to the multiple instances of the phrase “NO NED FINLEY” – a customer who shall not be booked under any circumstances–to the rusted pipes on the basement walls; this is an active place, not just a backdrop for activity and the small details clue us in to that immediately. The set is nothing entirely too outrageous, but it is brilliantly decorated with the sweater belonging to Sam’s absent co-worker, the Christmas lights all around, and the menorah atop the lockers telling us that this place, small and unhappy a workplace it seems to be, is lived in nonetheless.

The lighting too, being just as integral as anything else, works wonderfully. It changes to tell us where we are with certain characters within the restaurant, and, in one of my personal favorite bits of this intensely funny menagerie, even adds menace to one particular customer.

Overall, this show is wonderfully designed and performed. I truly applaud everyone who is involved, both on and off stage, who give so much energy and attention to detail. “Fully Committed,” as directed by Gus Kaikkonen, is marvelously entertaining and perfectly captivating, a simple story, in essence, told in the most absurd way.

Cheyenne Heinselman is an actress and a playwright, a member of the International Thespian Society Troupe #7883, as well as an avid and opinionated supporter of the arts.

 


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