BWW Reviews: FULLY COMMITTED Opens for Dinner at BIG ARTS on Sanibel
There's one man (and a bunch of junk) on the stage. There's 40 characters on the stage. There's a laptop. A desk. A chair. A phone. An intercom. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. That. Incessant. ########## ####### ####### ######## ######## #######-ing RING!
"Good evening, "Fully Committed;" could you hold please?"
Becky Mode's one-man show looks at life chained to a phone on the reservations desk at a tony Manhattan eatery. The title comes from a specific phrase CHEFF!! wants staff to use when the restaurant is booked up; they're not full, the place is "fully committed."
Four buzzing phone lines, a panicky fembot hostess, le Jean-Claude ze Fraynche maitre'd, macho Dominican cocina Hector, delightfully British and oh-so-full-of-himself CHEF!!!!, the cu$tomer$$$$$$$, the Mafia, the red phone, the intercom and did we mention Mrs. Sebag?
Trey Compton (so delightful to watch on stage) makes 90 minutes disappear in a flash. His electric stage presence allows him to transform into the dozens of characters in a flash, then back to Sam Peliczowski's flat (and weary) Midwestern whine.
Voice, mimicry and an enviable manual dexterity aid Compton in creating portraits of everyone from terminally depressed secretaries to Naomi Campbell's flamboyant assistant Buh-ryyyyyce (say it with a trill now!). Angry customers, sleazy customers, poopy customers and everything in between take shape on stage. Anyone who's ever worked for tips will sympathize with poor Sam; and they will love every second of Compton's portrayal.
That said, I wish I had liked the show.
This season has been one of change for the team at BIG ARTS and the HERB Strauss Theater. Former artistic director Justin Cowan resigned last summer. Bobby Logue and Jenny Smith shared responsibilities for a time, with Logue assuming duties as the theatre's production manager earlier this season. The issues in "Fully Committed" represent the growing pains of a leadership transition.
Director Jeremy Gold Kronenberg's interpretation of Sam's day being squeezed into a 90-minute slice of theatre offer an interesting take on the show. I think Kronenberg might have the germ of something unique, but his vision doesn't translate on stage. We need to see both the passage of time and still not sacrifice the hurry, hurry, super scurry atmosphere.
Sound effects, like phones, intercoms and CHEF!!'S ruby Alexander Graham Bell special disappoint. Sound quality was also poor on opening night. Lights, from David A. Sexton, impresses, especially the flashing red bulb on the CHEF!!-phone (imagine Rudolph's nose, if Rudolph snorted rails off his meat cleaver during the lunch rush).
Find all this goofy merriment - plus the Sheik's right-hand man, Carolann Rosenstein-Fishburn (that woman will NOT. STOP. CALLING!) and even Dr. Ruth Westheimer - on Sanibel. Go early. Watch sunset on the causeway. You're out by 9:30 p.m., just in time to hit the Jacaranda. You can't ask for a better night.
Chris Silk is the arts writer and theater critic for the Naples Daily News. To read the longer version of this review, go to: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2013/apr/02/review-big-arts-trey-compton-fully-committed/