Tom Story provides a comedic tour-de-force as the frenetic and frazzled Sam and forty other characters in the hilarious Fully Committed at MetroStage.
Pity poor Sam, the out-of-work actor forced to deal with countless outrageous customers all demanding a reservation at Manhattan’s trendiest high-end restaurant despite the fact that it is regularly sold out (or “fully committed”) three months in advance. Many also demand the best table or to speak personally to the chef, a practitioner of molecular gastronomy whose dishes are garnished with touches such as tomato foam or edible dirt.
Sam wears a headset that seems permanently attached to his head as he flips between several lines ringing on the restaurant office phone, the chef’s ominous red wall phone, and his own cell phone. He frantically bounces around the basement office set lovingly designed by Carl Gudenius and his assistant Jingwei Dai like a ping pong ball in a tornado. It’s the kind of miserable work situation that leads one “friend” to comment that “If I had your job, I’d shoot myself.”
Sam is facing personal issues as well. He fears that that his acting career is going nowhere, his lover has just moved out leaving him with full rent to pay, and it looks as though he will be disappointing his loving and recently widowed father, who hopes that Sam can somehow return home to the Midwest for Christmas.
Tom Story gives the kind of virtuoso performance as Sam and all the other characters that makes it hard to imagine any other actor in the role. He engages in nonstop action and makes lighting fast switches between characters with distinctive changes in voice and physical mannerisms. One could say that he “fully commits” to each individualized character.
Fully Committed works on many levels. It is a light-hearted satire of today’s foodie trends, the 1% who can afford to pay $400 for a meal, and a celebrity chef’s chase of fame and VIP customers. One of the funniest characters is Gwyneth Paltrow’s assistant Bryce, who seeks a table for 16 with no female wait staff and no harsh lighting, and a locally-sourced vegan tasting menu with no fat, no salt, no sugar, no dairy, no legumes, and no corn.
There are many other equally entertaining and hilarious characterizations of entitled customers ranging from socialites to secretaries, a food editor, a mobster, a fellow actor, Sam’s talent agency, and a zany assortment of fellow restaurant workers. The laughs come nearly non-stop as the action moves swiftly from character to character, aided by Gordon Nimmo-Smith’s flawless sound design of nearly non-stop telephone rings.
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closes January 8, 2017
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Yet what makes the show more than a one joke parody is the genuine sensitivity that Story delivers to the character of Sam. Story and director Alan Paul convey the Sam’s humanity in a way that earns the audience’s sympathy. In addition, they work together to present a well-conveyed arc of Sam rebounding from the lowliest of humiliations to realizing and using his own power to overcome personal challenges.
Tom Story has quietly become one of the DC area’s most versatile and valuable actors, and Fully Committed offers him a showcase that illustrates his remarkable range like few other roles could do.
The holidays are a wonderful time for light theatrical enjoyment. MetroStage’s Fully Committed offers fast-paced fun and abundant laughter as well as the opportunity to see a truly remarkable solo performance by Tom Story.
Fully Committed by Becky Mode. Directed by Alan Paul. Associate Director: Kevin Place. Featuring Tom Story. Set Design: Carl Gudenius. Assistant Set Design: Jingwei Dai. Lighting Design: Alexander Keen. Sound Design: Gordon Nimmo-Smith. Props/Set Decoration: Rhe’a Roland. Stage Manager: David Elias. Assistant Stage Manager: Laurel VanLandingham. Master Carpenter: Bill Woodard. Presented by MetroStage. Reviewed by Steven McKnight.