Sam Lloyd: Fully Committed
This has to have been one of the best impulse decisions I have made in a long time, and it may even be my Fringe first.
The hour and a half flew by in Becky Mode‘s rollicking one-man play, exploring a day in the life of Sam Peliczowski, a working actor and restaurant reservationist – a busy one. Used and abused by the restaurant hierarchy, his freedom for expression, personality and travel is severely repressed. He is trapped by his occupation, leaving his acting career on hold and his widowed father alone for Christmas. So what to do? Lay down and take it for another year, or go out on a high?
If I were feeling particularly pretentious and/or unnecessarily analytical, I’d be tempted to argue that the story never happened. Each character portrayed is Sam’s own personal escapism from the mundanity of his office and that, in reality, this particular hour and half was a battle with his own demons: can he ever allow himself to be as good as he’d like to be? Will he ever have that “sense of entitlement” his agency thinks he lacks? It’s one way to look at the performance. And I’d be surprised if I was even remotely correct.
Acting out 40 different characters is a mammoth sounding task, but doable. And Mr Lloyd dealt with it admirably. Once the audience has accepted the format of Mode’s show, characters become distinct, memorable and favoured. I never tired of Sam trying (and failing) to connect Miss Fishburger to Jean-Claude, who would only respond with “she’s so ugly, Sam“ in the thickest of French accents. My only critique lies within Lloyd himself when he returns to the only physically portrayed character in the room (Sam).
Because of the very nature of the piece, it is a demanding ask to keep each character individual, with unique traits, posture and mannerisms. So when Sam gets a chance to be himself, Lloyd’s gestures would occasionally seem a little slack and lack-lustre. There was one moment which, with a little touch up and perfection, could have had a much a greater impact. He receives a call and decides to put them on hold. He walks over to the filing cabinet with gusto, stops, and kicks it. He then returns to the phone and resumes the call. Because the precision of the action was a bit raggedy, the audience laugh was delayed. They got it eventually, but it would have been sooner had the action been clearer.
All in all, a very good decision, and not in any way overshadowed by the fact that we met him. Nope. No way. (He was adorable).
So this was fun for two reasons, but I’ll leave one of them until later, just in case you think I’m a little biased. Imagine, if you will, 12 Angry Men. It’s a similar premise except there’s only 4, it’s a hotel room and only 2 of them are truly angry.
Ok, so it’s a tenuous link at best.
A stag do in disguise, they are trapped in the last minute hotel room and find themselves facing their own personal demons, whether they want to or not. Tempers flare, friendships are queried and sanity is debatable.
Having seen this only 6 days into their run, performance nerves were still evident and not everyone had completely settled into their roles. Now at the beginning of their second week, I have no doubt that as they spend more time embodying their individual personalities, the characters will become more familiar.
My second reason for finding this piece fun lay in watching friends of mine perform the text of another friend of mine. There is an argument/attempted fight which was hilarious and beyond adorable – granted, it is because I know them, and I think they’re adorable anyway, but even if I hadn’t, the cowardice of the fight was delightful. They both wanted to hurt each other, but they didn’t want to get hurt. As a result the two of them circle each other in the cramped space before getting themselves into a headlock not uncommon to the school playground.
For a text that has a dark undertone, the silliness of the group is the balancer. It is incredibly relatable – we have all been in a situation where we’ve looked at our friends and questioned how the hell we connected in the first place, despite our contrasting personalities. You see the naïve friend, the mediator, the uptight but successful friend and the layabout; you wonder why they’re friends but by the end of the piece, it doesn’t matter. All in all, a short and sweet piece.