BWW Review: FULLY COMMITTED at TheaterWorks
Sometimes a peek behind the proverbial curtain can be a thrilling affair. Whether it is a look at the inner workings of a complicated machine or a sneak peek "behind the scenes" of the latest summer blockbuster, people have been fascinated with understanding what it takes to "make the sausage" for years. And sometimes, that insight can be hilarious. In Becky Mode's FULLY COMMITTED, the latest play from TheaterWorks in Hartford, audiences get to witness a day in the life of Manhattan's #1 restaurant told through the eyes of Sam, an out-of-work actor who answers the reservation line (and does whatever else the egotistical chef demands.) The twist? All 33 characters in the play are played by one actor (Jamison Stern) in a hilarious, tour-de-force performance that thrills and delights.
Over the course of FULLY COMMITTED (which runs at the Wadsworth Atheneum for 90 minutes, no intermission) the audience meets each wacky character that intersects with Sam as he goes about a typical (yet extra stressful) day. A-list celebrity personal assistants to normal Manhattanites jockey to get a coveted seat at the unnamed restaurant and Sam does his best to deal with the calls while answering questions from the staff (via intercom), calls from his widowed father, and demands from the chef (via his red hotline phone). If it sounds like pandemonium, you hit the nail on the head. It is raucous, hilarious, pandemonium with a strong heart.
Becky Mode's script for FULLY COMMITTED does a great job capturing a wide range of human emotions in the characters on display. They are recognizable and sometimes relatable, but each one funny and fun to meet. It is through the delivery of Jamison Stern, though, that these people are brought to brilliant life. From a shift in accent, a slight change in facial expression, or just a simple look, Mr. Stern transforms effortlessly from one person to another and has the audience in stitches. He carries the entire show on his capable shoulders and is a thrill to watch.
Behind that brilliant performance is equally laudable direction from Mr. Stern's frequent collaborator, and Connecticut native, Bill Fennelly. In less capable hands, a play like this could begin to feel repetitive and "one-note", but through Mr. Fennelly's nimble direction and Mr. Stern's delivery, each conflict and call seems fresh and uniquely funny. Add in a well-appointed, cluttered, but realistic set by Brian Prather, and you have a recipe for an extremely entertaining evening.
So, if you are someone who has ever tried to balance the crazy demands of work, personal goals, and family commitments (so, basically, everyone), FULLY COMMITTED is a show you don't want to miss. It is fast-paced, intimate, and downright hilarious - but like the restaurant setting of the play, if you don't hurry, it might be hard to get a seat, so call for your own reservation today!
TheaterWorks' FULLY COMMITTED runs at The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT through September 1st. The Wadsworth is located at 600 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. For more information call 860-527-7838 or go to theaterworkshartford.com.
ALL PHOTOS: Jamison Stern (photos by Lanny Nagler)