False Commitment

Although Fully Committedfronts some dazzling four-star style, the substance in this one-man show about a harried reservations clerk in an überposh New York eatery (no mere restaurant this!) is as bland as anything you'd shake out of a $4.99 value meal. Sure, it's all quite tamely hilarious, thanks primarily to star Brian Beacock's sheer energy. In fact, if you happen to be part of a certain august theater demographic, you'll gleefully pee your Depends right through. For the rest of us—who can't shake the feeling that we've seen most of the 40-odd characters many, many times before—it's mildly amusing at best. Check your mind at the door, and you'll have a good time. Like the chef says, the house specialty here is the marinated fluke. Committed,written by Becky Mode and Nicholas Martin, is basically a smorgasbord of comic stereotypes so timeworn we'd better call them archetypes (the Jewish Shrew, the Snotty Frenchman, the Flaming Drama Guy, ad practically infinitum). It's to Beacock's credit that he douses the characters with just enough comedic spice to camouflage how gamy they're getting.

He whiplashes through this total-body workout of a one-man show with Richard Simmons-like aplomb. (Yes, you should be afraid. Be very afraid.) Forget breaking character: at up to 40 roles per performance, he's liable to break his neck. It's exhausting even by proxy, so you may want to lug the oxygen tank out of the trunk of the Caddy before things get started.

Unfortunately, Beacock doesn't have much of a play to work with. Part New York City cliché, part Broadway ham and with a dash of clammy Hollywood sheen, Committed is just a laugh track shy of being the season's gosh-darn-quirkiest new sitcom. Sure, Time Magazine called Committed one of the year's 10 best plays, but they also pronounced George Wanker Bush "Man of the Year," so can we really accord them any sort of intellectual credibility?

But then again, America's a pretty boring place these days. So if you've been looking for a bladder-suspension joke you can really sink your dentures into, you'll eat Committedup—chortled one audience member as Beacock mugged desperately onstage, "It's so true!" More discriminating palates, however, would do well to track down other starving artists to support instead.

Fully Committed at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-Arts. Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. Through May 20. $34-$43.

 
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