AISLE SAY Seattle, Washington


By Becky Mode
Directed by Kurt Beattie
Starring R. Hamilton Wright
A Contemporary Theatre
700 Union Street, Seattle, WA 98101 / (206) 292-7676

Reviewed by Jerry Kraft

"Fully Committed" is a stunt show, in the sense that it's one of those virtuoso pieces in which one actor plays thirty-some roles. It is also, however, a strikingly well-constructed, funny and insightful piece of comic writing. Playwright Becky Mode is a successful television writer, but this is her first play. It's really quite amazingly confident in its use of the stage, and thoroughly sophisticated in terms of pace, variety, structure and observation. Fortunately, the remarkably versatile and very funny actor R. Hamilton Wright carries the entire weight of the show with ease. DirectorKurt Beattie clearly understands both the actor and the play, and the result is a rich and constantly amusing entertainment.

Buried in overflowing debris and random stored food items, we are in the basement of a trendy, much in demand restaurant, currently serving a cuisine they call "Global Fusion". Centerstage is the reservation phone, as implacable as the chopping block of a guillotine. Upstage is the red hotline linking the reservation desk to the chef upstairs. Bob called in today, leaving our hapless hero to field the unending calls from hopeful diners, other staff, friends and family. Mr. Wright plays the fill-in reservation man, as well as everyone else he talks to on the other end of the line. The end result is to make just about any other job in the world seem pretty good.

Part of Mr. Wright's amazing accomplishment is simply keeping all of the characters in sequence, in character, distinct and consistent over the course of the action. Among the more memorable of his inventions is the chirpingly bright, lighter than air Bryce, a "personal assistant" to Ms. Naomi Campbell. All she needs is for the restaurant to prepare a "vegan-like" luncheon for fifteen. We all know someone like Bryce, who could paint a happy face on a gutter in Calcutta.. He appears and re-appears in the midst of an assemblage that includes a Mafia guy, a wealthy society woman whose importance can't quite get her past being put on hold, a woman who simply weeps uncontrollably, Bob (just checking in), a Japanese woman who never gets past three letters in spelling her name, and the dreaded diner from whom, under no circumstances, is a reservation ever to be taken. In addition to this zoo full of characters, there is enough physical action involving such things as a rat trap, a badly fouled restroom to be cleaned, and the frequent journey between the reservation phone and the red phone to keep the play from ever getting static or monotonous.

And make no mistake, "Fully Committed" is a play, not simply an extended sketch or "Who's on First?" style clever nonsense. By the end of its brief, whirlwind playing time we've come to really know the place, over the arc of a day, and to understand not only the job, but the clientele, the restaurant and its politics, and the breathtaking unimportance of it all. It's hilarious, smart and satisfying. Good material, great talent, expert direction. Now that's a recipe for great theatrical cuisine.

Return to Home Page