By Tulis McCall
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 body guard 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 ownsome 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 I 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 as once: speaking and touching her hair, to Carolann Rosenstein-Fishburn who would be just as happy chewing the scenerey 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.
FULLY COMMITTED – Written by Becky Mode; Directed by Jason Moore
Cast Jesse Tyler Ferguson
At the Lyceum Theatre