Jesse Tyler Ferguson has always balanced sweet likability with just a dash of acidic bite, and both qualities serve him well in Fully Committed. He brings a lot of warmth when he plays the central character Sam, a reservationist at one of New York’s trendiest restaurants. He also plays all of the people calling the restaurant – more than 40 in all – and has plenty of opportunity to display that comedic acidity playing the more venomous callers. That sweetness and acidity come together deliciously when Sam slyly gets back at some of his oppressors.
Ferguson isn’t afraid to go over the top when the character calls for it, and throws himself into the whole affair with great energy and elan, but every moment stays rooted in reality. Director Jason Moore must surely take some credit for that as well – both the dynamism and rootedness.
Playwright Becky Mode has aimed at creating a generally light hearted satire, and has successful hit that target. Though the play premiered in 1999, Mode has updated it to be thoroughly in line with today’s culinary trends and pop culture. There are hints at more emotional depth when dealing with Sam’s recently widowed father, but it never gets so heavy that it bogs down what is clearly Fully Committed‘s main ambition: pure entertainment. High art this ain’t, but that doesn’t really matter. Recommended.
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To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.