Poor Sam. An actor waiting for his big break, he spends his down time slaving over the telephone reservation line in the basement of one of the most exclusive restaurants around. The dour and melancholy employee is constantly barraged by big shots and everyday people with feeble appeals, bullying threats, and cajoling pleas for a prized lunch or dinner reservation. In addition, his co-worker is missing in action, the upstairs staff is uncaring to his needs, and the chef is a scolding, unsympathetic and disinterested dolt.
So sets the table for the comical, somewhat poignant, one-man show, Fully Committed. Starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson as the harried gatekeeper to a gastronomic nirvana, this light weight, 80 minute one act is humorous and entertaining, nothing more, nothing less. Ferguson is a man constantly in motion as he flits from telephone to desk to pacing around his cramped subterranean headquarters. Along the way he portrays numerous characters—from persons desperately trying to make a reservation, to family members, to the employees of the unnamed dining spot. The actor clearly is enjoying himself as he immerses his own persona into the jumble of characters he impersonates. He is mostly even-tempered, yet a bundle of kinetic energy.
Playwright Becky Mode gives a knowing nod to the frenetic world of restaurant reservations. She packs the show with amusing quips and incidents. One ongoing scenario has the assistant to actress Gwyneth Paltrow continually call with one more outrageous request after another including bringing her own lightbulb to the restaurant to make sure she is not bathed in a harsh glow. Mode gives the play an easygoing, plausible narrative structure, which by its conclusion sees Sam move from a woeful nobody to a more assertive somebody.
Director Jason Moore skillfully guides Ferguson through his chaotic paces. He has conspired with the actor to incorporate a multitude of nuanced gestures, facial ticks, and vocal somersaults to the bevy of characters portrayed. The result is an engaging and enjoyable piece of theater.
Fully Committed, a diverting and pleasing production playing through July 24th at the Lyceum Theatre.