Fully CommittedSpencer McLaren is a committed actor, fully committed. So is his character, Sam, who we see struggling to breakthrough the cut-throat New York entertainment industry. But while Sam is still waiting for his break, McLaren clearly has had his, and is set to shoot through the cluttered Melbourne Fringe program with this stellar performance in the imported one-man show, Fully Committed. As with most actors, Sam keeps an office job - arranging bookings in the basement of a prestigious New York restaurant, frequented by the likes of supermodel Naomi Campbell. Her camp assistant, Bryce, is one of numerous personalties played with uncanny precision by McLaren; a fabulously cheeky “Hi Sam, it’s Bryyyyce!” is lapped up by the audience with each re-emergence of the shrill celebrity aide.

Yet it is with hesitation I mention that Fully Committed, written by native New Yorker Becky Mode, is imported. Sometimes the foreign tag can act as a calling card, especially when stamped with New York or London. In this case it detracts from an otherwise engaging and witty script that would have benefited from a little tweaking to better resonate with Australian audiences.

But like New York, London critics loved this multi-character romp for its pace, its sharp mimicry of both American society and the global worship of celebrity restaurant culture. Given our inescapable familiarity with American exports, from The Sopranos to Starbucks, it is not difficult to let the comedic strengths of Fully Committed play out without concern for locality. Nevertheless, it would be nice to know that it is more than a syndicated production, franchised out like the famous coffee chain.

Presumably director Gary Young is relying on universal qualities present within the characters, ranging from a mafia boss to a bossy Kentucky wife. Amusing? Yes. Memorable? No. While Spencer McLaren is likely to carry this production through the season with capacity audiences, a lack of originality means few will come away feeling fully satisfied.

American Apparel and jobsjobsjobs.com.au in association with PANTRY present
by Becky Mode

Venue: The Athenaeum Theatre | Collins St Melbourne
Dates: October 3 - 28  2007
Times: Wed 8pm, Thur 7 & 9pm, Fri 11:15pm, Sat 2 & 11:15pm, Sun 5pm
Tickets: $29 full, $25 conc
Bookings: Ticketmaster 136 100 or www.ticketmaster.com.au

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