Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: St. Louis

Fully Committed
New Jewish Theatre
Review by Richard T. Green


Will Bonfiglio
Photo by Jon Gitchoff
It's "knives out" in this finely honed new production of Fully Committed, running through December 22, 2019, at the New Jewish Theatre in Creve Couer. Becky Mode's comedy from 2000 features only one actor, playing an over-worked reservations clerk at one of Lower Manhattan's most talked-about restaurants, as well as nearly every person who works there, or desperately wants to get in to eat that night. And, by the end of the 85-minute show, the stage is littered with the (invisible) corpses of fifteen or twenty of his tormentors. Our hero, Sam Peliczowski (actor Will Bonfiglio), stands triumphant in spite of every possible indignity.

Conflicts, characters and wits are sharpened to a razor's edge, thanks to director Ellie Schwetye. And with the speed of an industrial-strength microwave oven, the delightful challenge of keeping everything straight in your own head, let alone in Mr. Bonfiglio's, in the midst of it all, is astonishing. You know going in it's just a one-person show. But only halfway through this time did I really understand that also means there's no escape for this victim of a thousand hungry devils, and no one to help him as the story's conflicts all boil over.

And even if this is your third or fourth time, you'll cringe anew at the society dragons and wheedling hangers-on who all come tumbling out in this high-def staging. Mr. Bonfiglio, who is often cast as a devilish character, becomes the heart-tugging victim of every imaginable social climber, off-loading any trace of deviousness or worse onto the shoulders of unseen characters like Bunny van de Veer, or the artisan chef who propelled "molecular gastronomy" onto the glossy pages of magazines like Bon Appétit. He embodies each one with admirable distinction. Late in the game, his callers begin to resemble Bond villains, to great effect.

A few shockingly deep moments of heartbreak also linger, as when Sam's recently widowed father tries to invite him home for Christmas, or when his brother casts him into a bitterly dark moment of doubt over his stalled acting career. But then there's that very odd, whiplash moment when he's answering four phones at once, only to find one voice at the other end is simply sobbing quietly, for no known reason. We quickly fill in the blank, that it's just the madness of big city life, where all our basic needs are met, but we develop a whole new list of life-or-death crises for no other purpose than to crush our souls, or someone else's.

I'm beginning to think that whenever you set foot in New York, it stops being "about you." Almost anywhere else in the country, you naturally feel you have your own space, and identity, and an independent point of view. But here is New York wrapped up in a bow, shouting in your ear, always working an angle, unexpectedly brilliant and dazzling, and yet watching in horror as the very island shrinks away beneath their feet, inch by inch. And suddenly, at the end of this outrageous case of multiple personality disorder, here is how one very harried young man slowly figures it all out, to his own rich advantage.

Magical.

Fully Committed runs through December 22, 2019, at the Jewish Community Center, #2 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis MO. For more information visit www.njt.org.

The Player
Sam: Will Bonfiglio*

Production Team
Director: Ellie Schwetye
Scenic Design: David Blake
Costume Design: Michele Friedman Siler
Lighting Design: Elizabeth Lund
Sound Design: Kareem Deanes
Stage Manager: Taylor Baer*
Artistic Director: Edward Coffield


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