note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Beverly Creasey
Forget David Blaine. Mark Setlock does everything but encase himself in an ice sculpture in Becky Mode's naughty, trendy comedy called "Fully Committed" (meaning all booked up) about an "in" New York eating establishment. Setlock plays a worker bee, buzzing in the restaurant's stuffy, windowless basement, taking reservations from dozens of demanding diners and considerable guff from the restaurant's maniacal chef. Did I mention he plays all the characters?
I don't care how Blaine did the ice trick but I want to know how Setlock does the phone/buzzer business. Is it a pre-recorded sound track? Is there a stage manager or a sound man timing the mayhem backstage? Or is it Setlock himself cueing up all the split second sound effects? In the course of one and a half hours, Setlock gets (and makes) thousands of phone calls --- from Dad, from his brother, from a narcissistic fellow actor, his agent, the Maitre D, the bus boys, the kitchen crew, the hostess, nasty New Yorkers, clueless out-of-towners, supermodel assistants, V.I.P.s and N.V.I.P.s, etc. From my restaurant experience Setlock as Sam is the most patient person on the face of the earth. In one of the play's cutest bits, Naomi Campbell (or was it Nell) has her assistant call to remind Sam they want a Vege mean (pron Veej) of "no meat, no fish, no dairy, no salt, no sugar, no soy..."
Becky Mode gets in a lot of dish about the rich and famous. New Yorkers are still guessing who the dog-faced superwoman is. She wanders into the realm of the tasteless at one point (the play is plenty funny without it) and she almost runs out of steam at one point --- but director Nicholas Martin (now at the Huntington helm) knows when it's getting thin and he gets Setlock up and dancing....and Mode adds a soupcon of plot (Will Sam get home for Christmas?) at just the right moment.
The producers wondered if their fare would please finicky Boston audiences. After all, the Zagats et al are chi chi in New York. They needn't have worried. There's nothing Bostonians love more than howling at those pretentious New Yorkers. "Fully Committed" is haute comedie indeed.