Theater:Fully Committed

Fully Committed
Through April 26 at Mad Cow Theatre;
$22 (except for the pay-what-you-wish performance April 22); 407-297-8788;

I have been a Jay Becker fan for a long time, having enjoyed this protean actor's portrayals in the Orlando theater scene for almost two decades. He has endlessly delighted me with his ability to take on divergent personae, developing full-blooded and textured characters while camouflaging his exceptional technical gifts beneath a calm and personable exterior.

How enormously gratifying, then, to witness his tour-de-force performance in Mad Cow Theatre's production of playwright Becky Mode's one-man comedy, Fully Committed. The estimable Becker, directed by Patrick Braillard, gets to play dozens of loopy, inane and completely outlandish roles, all in a rollicking and thoroughly enjoyable 75 minutes.

The story of Fully Committed is quite simple: Sam Peliczowski is an aspiring New York actor who must make ends meet taking phone reservations in the basement of a pretentious, upscale eatery. It's a place where the food portions are small but the social impact of getting the right table on the right day can be hugely important — at least it is to the self-inflated upper-crust types who cajole, grovel and threaten Sam into squeezing them onto a reservation list that is "fully committed" months in advance.

Sam has to juggle the needs of these outsized big-city egos with those of clueless out-of-towners blissfully unacquainted with the restaurant's renowned "global fusion" cuisine. He must also deal with a Hitlerian celebrity chef, a sycophantic French maitre d', a phone-room colleague who has left him in the lurch, and various friends and family who constantly remind him of his lowly status and inability to move up from the basement to the life of a working actor.

With dazzling precision, Becker moves quickly and seamlessly from one phone call to the next, constantly changing vocal inflections and physical attitudes as he delivers both sides of the myriad conversations that take place during the course of one frantic afternoon on the job. Never has Becker's ability to zero in on quick and precise characterizations been so tested — and ultimately so successful.

Fully Committed's slick and funny script has given Becker an opportunity that only an actor of his aptitude and talent could take complete advantage of. He has turned in one of this season's most brilliant performances — one that will undoubtedly earn him many more well-deserved fans.

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