After the 90 or so minutes of Fully Committed, you feel a teenie bit paranoid swanning out onto the street because this is, after all, New York. And you can run into almost ANYONE in New York. Unless they are Al Pacino and have a bodyguard the size of a storage unit. The anyones you would not want to run into are the characters brilliantly brought into your life by Jessie Tyler Ferguson. There are 40 and most of them are not people into whom you would like to bump, never mind deal with as dining guests in any way whatsoever. Mind you each of these people are of the exact opposite opinion. In their puny little brains, yours would be the honor and theirs would be the right to command.
Tucked away in what is supposed to be a suffocating 4×6 closet (and I am afraid this set fails to achieve the desired affect big time) is Sam Callahan. It is just before Christmas and Sam is wasting his life and talent being the point person for a restaurant that features “Molecular gastronomy” a la crispy deer lichen atop a slowly deflating scent-filled pillow, dusted with edible dirt.
Sounds pretty delish to moi.
WHAT is being served, however, is not as important as the people who are dining. Not dining actually. If they wanted to do that they would stay home – even that Foodie Gwyneth Paltrow who, according to her assistant Bryce is all vegan and prefers that no female wait staff grace her table. These are the people who will take a table for four and sit next to one another on the wall side, reducing it to a table for two just so that they can see and be seen. This is where the elite meet to eat. And for that they will pay a price of $250-300 just for the food.
What, you say? Seriously? Well yes. Just swan by Del Frisco’s sometime where the steak all on its lonesome goes for $45. Unless of course you want fries with that.
So why would we want to watch a guy hooked up to slave labor steam pipes and meet all the asses he has to kiss? Because Ferguson makes it fast and funny. This is not a particularly great or even good play. It is, however, a sort of grand audition. Ferguson goes from zero to 60 in a nanno-second. From Sam’s Midwestern father who adores his son, to the upper East-Sider Mrs. Vandevere who seems to have trouble doing two things at once: speaking and touching her hair, to Carolann Rosenstein-Fishburn who would be just as happy chewing the scenery as a good meal.
The character who gets lost here is Sam himself – no surprise there – until he has a bit of good fortune drop into his life and it seems to give him a backbone. In the end, he rights the wrongs of the day and is off to do a good deed and be handsomely rewarded for a change. We cheer for his escape.
No one leaves the theatre talking about Sam. They leave talking about Ferguson who delivers the goods. This is an actor of some talent and discipline. He is not just a funny red-headed guy. He has the chops, and I look forward to seeing him cast in a show that lets him shine.
"Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the sole performer in Becky Mode’s 'Fully Committed,' is a comic dynamo with seemingly endless energy."
Charles Isherwood for New York Times
"The actor is fully committed, yes, but the production isn’t totally satisfying."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"Despite its empty calories, 'Fully Committed' is about as delicious as a solo show can get."
Roma Torre for NY1
"The actor’s likability glazes his hamminess with sugar, and the play, while not very filling, can be enjoyed with few reservations."
Adam Feldman for Time Out New York
"A triumph of voices and athleticism from Ferguson, who sweats up a storm."
Mark Kennedy for Associated Press
"The virtuoso performance is one that begs to be described as a comedic tour de force, and unquestionably, Ferguson's efforts command applause, as do those of director Jason Moore, who has provided almost non-stop business for the actor to juggle. But all that sweat somehow doesn't add up to much more than a string of sometimes-funny jokes in Becky Mode's one-person one-act about the ridiculous faddishness of upscale foodie culture."
David Rooney for Hollywood Reporter
"Without bringing anything special to the role of the beleaguered reservations clerk, Ferguson’s performance should remind the industry why this clever trifle is among the ten most-produced plays in the country."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety
External links to full reviews from popular press...