With just a few days left in the show’s run, Scott Wichmann is still going strong as the lead in Barksdale’s Fully Committed, his final Richmond role before heading off for the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Fully Committed, Becky Mode’s tautly-written, insanely funny one-man show, gives us a glimpse into the life of Sam Peliczowski, the harried reservation-taker for one of New York’s most exclusive restaurants. Sam, played brilliantly by Scott Wichmann, has been abandoned by his co-workers, forgotten by the kitchen staff, forced to deal with the impossible demands of a difficult chef, and winds up spending a part of his day knee deep in literal crap.
Under the direction of Steve Perigard, Fully Committed moves at a perfect, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it pace that stops just short of requiring Ritalin. The riotous, outrageous, Wichmann breathes life into over 40 characters, providing biting insight into the complicated hierarchy that is the restaurant industry. No small feat, because there are no small personalities. Naomi Campbell’s assistant asks for an all-vegan tasting menu for 15, new wall sconces, and special lighting, though nothing is mentioned about padded walls for cell-phone-throwing. Entitled denizens of the Upper East Side, whose voices drip with disdain and money and flattened vowels, get into fights over exclusive tables and reservation times. Chef Claude spends his day unleashing a storm of foul language because the Zagats show up with no reservation, and Jean Claude, the maître d, refuses to speak to people he deems too ugly. They are at once hysterically funny and completely real, carefully navigating the invisible line between satire and stereotype.
The highlight, of course, is Wichmann’s characterization of Sam, the kind of likable, out-of-work actor from Indiana we all want to see succeed. Everyone can relate to Sam, because who hasn’t had a lousy day, an awful job dealing with hateful people, a boss we want to punch in the face? It’s the accessibility of this character that makes it hard not to cheer as we watch Sam slowly maneuver himself out of his lousy situation.
While Fully Committed is most certainly a comedy, the humor also allows for unexpected moments of humanity woven amidst the laughter. Wichmann makes Sam fully three-dimensional, revealing his whole life story to us in subtle, quiet moments that stand out in stark contrast to the frenetic hysteria surrounding him.
Sam ends his day exhausted but feeling pretty good, and so will everyone who leaves the theater.
Full Committed runs through August 30th (that’s THIS Sunday) at the Barksdale Theater at Hanover Tavern (13181 Hanover Courthouse Road). Shows are selling out quickly! Tickets are $38 and can be purchased here.