Beleaguered Sam is the only reservationist who shows up for his shift at the kind of five star “it” restaurant that books three months ahead on a specific day. Chef cooks “molecular gastronomy,” which does, in fact, exist. (Though foodie culture is not as prevalent as it was at its height, it remains dug in.) Sonja took off because her father is ill. Reservations Manager Bob says he’s waiting for a tow on the Long Island Expressway, which turns out not to be true. Sam fields calls from cloying, imperious, hysterical, threatening clientele who light up the phone like a pinball machine.
“Are you sure you don’t have anything, darlin’? We are tiny people…” pleads a Midwestern housewife. Two social butterflies instinctively know the other has her table. Needless to say everyone wants i.e. assures Sam they’re accustomed to the same well placed seating.
Bryce from Gwyneth Paltrow’s office needs a vegan chef’s tasting menu for 15 at prime time Saturday night. When I saw the piece on Broadway, she wanted legumes. This time, no. In that iteration, Andre Bishop was coming in to the restaurant; in this one, Sam is asked to stop in to his office. Playwright Becky Mode continues to fiddle with the piece, though thank God, there are no Kardashians.
Also on the phones are Stephanie (British) at the front desk, harried Oscar (Spanish) in the kitchen, Sous Chef Jean Claude (manifest with ersatz Danny Kaye French), a highly competitive actor “friend” named Jerry (they’ve auditioned for the same upcoming role at Lincoln Center), Sam’s agent, his Indian father, and, on a red hot line, Chef himself. The celebrity gourmet has no idea who Diane Sawyer or Alan Greenspan are, but knows when Mafia is coming in and whose husband invented Botox. In order to get reception on his own cell phone, Sam must perch half way up the basement stairs. Otherwise he paces like a caged beast.
Long ago, I was employed at such a job. Every seemingly exaggerated part of this very well written show is accurate. It’s black comedy – though somewhat less amusing in the cyclone’s center.
While Maulik Pancholy could be more precise in his over 40, turn-on-a-dime personality voices and growls as too many disgruntled patrons, he’s extremely sympathetic. The actor plays an arc well, taking us from anxiety to frenzy, through jealousy, depression, exhaustion, defeat, hope, guts, and triumph.
Director David Saint keeps Sam moving and moods shifting with credibility. We’re with the protagonist. Set and props are terrific- chaos with specificity. Sound authentic. Camera work is seamless.
Photos Courtesy of George Street Playhouse
George Street Playhouse Presents
Maulik Pancholy in Fully Committed by Becky Mode
Directed by David Saint
Art Direction by Helen Tewksbury
Cinematography and Editing by Michael Boylan
Original Music and Sound Design by Scott Killia
Sound Editing by Ryan Rumery
Coming Up: Tiny, Beautiful Things based on the best selling book by Cheryl Strayed and adapted for the stage by Oscar-nominated writer Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) May 4 — May 23, 2021