Coyote Stageworks is the newest professional not for profit theatre to come to Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. The company opened earlier this year with a production of Greater Tuna, which went on to win several local awards. The company describes itself as “the place for comedy” and live up to their stated mission with a perfectly delightful, funny, and thoroughly professional production of Fully Committed.
Fully Committed, wittily written by Becky Mode, directed by Joel Bishoff of I love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change fame, iIs basically a one person show involving a out of work actor answering phones at an unnamed restaurant, so busy you need to make a reservation months in advance. Of course this doesn’t stop people who considered themselves exceptions to call and ask or demand the best table on a Saturday night. The put-upon reservationist does his best to fulfill their desires but given a demanding chef, a pressured staff, a missing relief worker (who, it turns out, is absent while he interviews for another job), and the eccentricities of the customers, what results is an hilarious 80 minutes of comedy and mayhem.
A Southland favorite and a truly versatile actor who has been called the “Fred Astaire of Southern California” is called upon to meet the demands of the play. His name is David Engel and he is terrific in the role. A previous actor in the role was to have been known to have the script in front of him. With all the calls coming in, sometimes all at once, the play must be a bitch to memorize but Engel does so and carries out the physical and vocal demands perfectly. I think it shows his background in musical comedy and dance, where the performer must be on top of rhythm and pace, and needs to know how to get a laugh.
We meet all sorts of eccentric characters along the way, 38 to be exact. Each requires a different voice and set of mannerisms. Engel does so effortlessly. He begins his journey as a poor, out-of-work actor, who everyone pushes around. In the course of the play we see him gain some courage, some manipulative skills, and workable tactics to end up a stronger person who will not let himself be pushed around. Fully Committed will play one more weekend through March 27th at the Palm Springs Women’s Club Theatre, 314 S. Cahuilla Rd (at Baristo). It is worth the trip!