Fully Committed and American Psycho
Here’s a great idea for a fun night out.
Make a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town, and then pick up tickets for the very entertaining Fully Committed starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson and written by Becky Mode.
It’s early December and the action takes place in the basement in the crowded office of a “ridiculously red-hot Manhattan restaurant” where the phone rings insistently and constantly with anyone and everyone trying to snag a reservation. Sam is an actor (of course) who must make ends meet by working in this pressure cooker of a restaurant, helmed by a celebrity chef who is beyond obnoxious, and covering a co-worker who is unable to make it into work that day. Sam’s dad, who is a truly sweet man, calls several times to see if his son will return home for Christmas. Sam is anxious to hear from his agent about a recent audition, so he checks in with the agent throughout the day, while various characters call and vie to get that coveted reservation; from society people to regulars to newbies, the cast of characters come fast and furious.
And here is the kicker. All of the 40 characters are portrayed by Ferguson and all while on the phone or intercom.
It is astonishing to see how he shifts into character with each phone call. We hear both sides of the conversation: his and the caller’s, and he clearly differentiates between the two. It is a fast paced comedy, lasting only 90 minutes (but think about the 90 minutes Mr. Ferguson has to go through.)
If you are a foodie, and understand the depth to which people will go to to get that perfect table at THE “in” restaurant this will truly resonate for you. Having hung out in the basement of restaurants, where the office is a cubby hole and the chef is throwing a fit every other minute, I found this play totally delightful and hilarious. For those who don’t really get the hot restaurant scene, or are out of towners that are not accustomed to this behavior, I’m not sure it would resonate. Think of it like sushi. Some people are wild aficionados. Others can take it or leave it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this play, the characters and the story’s arc.
Kudos to Jesse Tyler Ferguson. I don’t know how he keeps the sequence of calls and characters straight, but he does a great job. I enjoyed every morsel.
Fully Committed, directed by Jason Moore, runs through July 24
From Fully Committed, (a title with a double entendre) we delve into the deep, dark recesses of a disturbed man in American Psycho.
I left the theatre with more questions than answers.
Is American Psycho a metaphor for the vapid, self-obsessed world of the 80’s (and quite honestly reflects today’s values as well) where anything goes, as long as you have all the proper elements for success? Does it touch on the concept that some women just love bad boys (and this is one honkin’ bad one) and are anxious to put a ring on it, no matter what? Is American Psycho just one big mirror to a degraded society?
I honestly do not know. It is creepy, wildly funny in a black humor kind of way, sardonic, sarcastic, intriguing and depraved. It certainly stayed with me. But I still don’t know what to make of it.
AMERICAN PSYCHO is based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, with music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik and book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. It’s directed by Rupert Goold with choreography by Lynne Page.
So we know that Patrick Bateman, played by devastatingly handsome Benjamin Walker, is a successful money guy living in an of-the-moment Manhattan apartment, sporting designer duds, eating at the best restaurants and hanging with the beautiful people. He also happens to be a blood thirsty, obsessed with killing (mainly women, but occasionally men) maniac who walks around for a good part of the show in only white underwear and completely blood spattered. Funny thing though, those around him don’t notice that small detail about him. Sure, they know that he loves to talk about famous serial killers, but they just pass that off as quirky.
Patrick has a nemesis he has encountered, and in the middle of screwing his girlfriend’s best friend, doing coke at a nightclub, enduring his mother, and fending off the repeated nagging of his girlfriend to get engaged, we see him plotting the demise of his competition. This guy has everything and more that Patrick wants.
He does him in. Or does he? I leave it to you to see how this story unfolds.
What I can tell you is that Patrick starts to realize he is spiraling out of control after a wild killing spree, and is aware that he is unable to feel any human emotion with anyone who loves him. When he shares a moment with his lovely and sweet secretary, some kind of chord is struck. Knowing he could easily kill her, he chooses not to. (And in the context of this story, that was indeed a charitable thing to do!)
Great performances by the stunning Mr. Walker and his gang, Theo Stockman as pal Timothy Price, Helene Yorke as his annoying girlfriend, Evelyn, Jennifer Damiano as his mild and sweet secretary, Jean (who has fallen in love with her boss,) and Morgan Weed, Evelyn’s best friend. Alice Ripley appears as several characters, including his mother.
Look, American Psycho is definitely not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for children. It is stark, stunning, severe, and perverse, but it is also a great reflection of our culture, with the constant in your face references to the lifestyle of the 1980’s (and again, although specific to the 80’s, can certainly fit today’s world.)
One particular reference to Donald Trump and his popular book then, “The Art of the Deal” was incredibly funny.
Duncan Sheik’s music is great, and easily recognizable, if you are familiar with Spring Awakening. Peppered throughout the musical you can also hear pop hits of the 1980’s, which is an interesting convention.
American Psycho is certainly not family fare, and is chock full of New York references. I don’t see it being a destination for tourists, so it will be interesting to see how it will be marketed and whether it will find an audience. I will say this.
The night I was there, when the first few notes were played by the orchestra, there was a cheer from the crowd. Perhaps there is an audience for this extremely dark and sadistic story. I just have to wonder how Benjamin Walker unwinds when he gets home from work.