By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Catering to obsessed foodies who crave tasting menus, and battling boorish socialites who demand priority seating, Sam Peliczowski mans the telephone lines booking reservations at a wildly popular Manhattan restaurant.
In Fully Committed we meet Sam, an actor for whom this is a pays-the-rent job, and a colorful cast of characters in a one-man show satirizing the pretentiousness so common to the world of celebrity chefs and demanding diners, from politicians to mobsters. Through psychological manipulation and desperate efforts at bribery, each hopeful customer makes it very clear he or she belongs on the VIP list and won't take no for an answer, a presumptuousness that eventually propels Sam toward the realization he too must exert a sense of entitlement in order to find his place in the world.
The Coconut Grove Playhouse serves up this delicious comedy by Becky Mode in the theater's Encore Room. Under Gus Kaikkonen's excellent direction, Kraig Swartz plays some two dozen characters -- Sam, the restaurant staff (including the egomaniacal chef), and the culinary crowd -- without ever leaving the dreary basement set for a costume change. He deftly morphs into the callers while on the phone with them via his headset, and when the restaurant staff buzzes through the intercom, Eric Nelson's lighting design bathes Sam in red, an indication that the restaurant's main room upstairs is some kind of hellish place.
Imbued with Swartz's energy, the cascading incidents make for an engaging plot. The correlation between Sam's personal endeavors and the treacherous social hierarchies he navigates at work create moments of true insight that stand out against the caricature inherent in a play built on so many quick sketches.