The 2022 Forestburgh Playhouse opener is a one-man show called “Fully Committed”, written by Becky Mode. You might not know the show, but it started out Off Broadway in 1999 and made its …
The 2022 Forestburgh Playhouse opener is a one-man show called “Fully Committed”, written by Becky Mode. You might not know the show, but it started out Off Broadway in 1999 and made its way onto a Broadway venue in 2016 starring none other than “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
The intermission-less production features an unemployed actor, Sam, who mans the hectic reservations phone lines of an ultra high end Manhattan restaurant. The phone lines include reservations, an in-house intercom, his personal cell phone and a direct landline to the rude, narcissistic chef. The hilarious (and truly challenging) aspect of these conversations is that the actor vocally plays out BOTH sides of each and every conversation. This includes quite the ridiculous array of “Don’t you know who I am” personalities as well as snobby socialites, mobsters, fellow employees, the chef, his aging father, fellow actors and a slew of plain, simple jerks!
Bounding, bouncing and channeling over 40 characters on the Forestburgh stage is Phillip Taratula as Sam. When I say over 40 characters, I don’t just imply 40 very distinct, creative voices, I mean voices that are each accompanied by unique gestures and mannerisms that go along with each caller. And these characters come in and out, back and forth throughout the show. I have no idea how Mr. Taratula kept each and every one of them straight in his head. Now imagine this. From the moment the lights came up, the phones are ringing and they NEVER STOP.
As each call is taken (or put on hold please!), whether it’s his cell, the intercom, the chef’s landline or reservations, Phillip Taratula is playing both sides of every conversation and it is rapid fire, one call to the next, back to someone on hold, then checking the laptop to confirm to jumping out of his seat to answer his cell phone in the one corner of the room that gets service! This performer has to be exhausted by the final curtain. Mr. Taratula has a treasure trove of varied bizarre voices and then a handful of heartfelt ones; most especially his father.
One might wonder what the plot could be amongst all of this silliness. Sam could be any one of us trying to get through his or her personal life while trying to hold down a very demanding job that doesn’t always appreciate your efforts. Sam has relationship problems and waits impatiently to hear back about his audition. At the same time, his unassuming widower Midwestern Dad checks in on his son and hopes that Sam can make his way back home for Christmas.
By the way, Mr. Taratula’s portrayal of his father is a very nice and quite touching counter balance to the non-stop multitude of insane hot shots and privileged name droppers he otherwise plays. The father’s encouragement and understanding words have such a caring, and lonely, undertone. It is this portrayal that brings much of the plot home. In the midst of this sea of absurdity that envelops Sam, it is also what ultimately brings about the story’s resolution.
Kudos must also be showered upon Sound Designer TJ O’Leary and Production Stage Manager Caroline Jackson who are the dynamic duo whose amazing super powers executed the constant mass and barrage of sound cues that did not end until the final curtain. Not only were they constant, but the sound cues occurred second to second. Phone ring to hang up to phone ring to intercom to landline to cell phone to hang up and IT NEVER STOPPED! Bravo!
“Fully Committed” will have you smiling, laughing out loud and emitting the occasional audible “Wow!” Phillip Taratula is a tour de force worth watching!
“Fully Committed” will run through June 26. Tickets and info are available through the box office at (845) 794-1194 or online at fbplayhouse.org.
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