“When it’s working, you won’t even pay attention to the time; there is no time, there is just that win.”
All of me is a fascinating exploration of travel agent, and gambling addict Gareth, played by Tommy Burgess, introduced to the audience as he stares intently at his computer screen. Working with problem-gambling charity GamCare, theatre company Anything Other has collaborated to raise awareness of gambling and the way addiction is a contribution factor to previous loss or trauma.
Burgess’s awkward movements and nasal voice are reminiscent of that colleague. The one that over excels with customer service, who remembers all hot beverage preferences in the office. Gareth represents every employee let go from their job because their addiction, receiving a huge amount of justice in All Of Me’s outrageous and outstanding final scenes. With the energy of charismatic performer, Burgess carries the character with such naturalism, that 40 minutes felt like a few minutes. As Gareth loses himself in the destruction of his own life, we are lost in with him, we don’t pay attention to time, only to Burgess’s all-encapsulating performance. I could have been watching an actor with decades of experience – his execution was faultless, portraying a lovable but self-destructive character with heaps of complexity.
Gareth invites us to listen to a snapshot of memories of his father, intersected with images of his gambling addiction at work. As an apparent coping mechanism to deal with the death of his father, Gareth’s gambling addiction begins to warp his reality and the eventual loss of the thing that provides structure in his life; his job.
Nicola Ralph’s set design is an excellent example of simple staging with huge impact. Piles of cardboard boxes with carefully considered props inside, provide an effective addition to Gareth’s story. As his character begins to unravel in his aggressive and dramatic state, so does the stage; a flurry of gaming chips, a computer screen thrown across the stage, the contents of a working office, laid out in front of us in keeping with Gareth’s unreliable and erratic nature.
All of me is an incredibly likeable show, with never a dull moment, creating such a strong rhythm that it’s hard to lose focus on Burgess’ immaculate stage presence. Its crashing and dramatic ending can only be the perfect ending to a short and snappy play that pushes the boundary of new writing.
Martin Brett’s writing has a tremendous amount of potential, and raises the bar for new writing with the company’s clever staging, and Burgess is a thoroughly engaging stage presence throughout. Without a doubt, this is one of the most exciting shows at the Fringe this year, and a theatre company to watch out for in the near future.
All of me is playing Greenside until August 27.