In a tiny dungeon of a room, pathetically decorated with Christmas lights and a few cardboard cutouts of Santa, sits Sam, a reservations operator for a New York "it" restaurant. Above him, people with names like Bunny Van de Veer dine on a menu of "global fusion," including Tureen of head cheese and Argentine cedar-roasted, milk-fed chicken at $100-$200 a head, while Sam frenetically fields calls from every imaginable type, all desperately clamoring for a table. Bryce, Naomi Campbell's effete assistant, calls to make sure that Campbell's table isn't too close to the lighting sconce, while Carol-Ann Rosenstein Fishburn wants a table on Friday night and absolutely won't take no for an answer. An elderly woman calls to complain about the lack of a senior-citizen discount and the fact that her food was "bittah cold," while Mrs. Cebag has a complete meltdown when her reservation can't be found. And so it goes in Becky Mode's delightful comedy at the Coronet.
Mode, who has tapped into her experience taking reservations at Manhattan's Bouley, reduces the societal elite to demanding children, each employing different tactics to get a table as if life itself were at stake. To add to Sam's trauma, he must contend with the restaurant's staff, including the cocaine-snorting Maitre d', Jean Claude, and the insecure chef who satanically barks out orders. While there is very little plot to speak of and the gist of the show is revealed within the first half-hour, the play is kept masterfully afloat by the performance of Mark Setlock.
Setlock plays Sam as the perfect straight man, genuinely sorry to have to tell people that the restaurant is "fully committed." He also plays every other character onstage (roughly 40 in all), flipping from one to the next with dizzying accuracy as he carries on both ends of phone conversations. Setlock, who has been performing the show in New York for the better part of a year, is nothing short of masterful in his timing and versatility. Nicholas Martin's direction is also impressive in its pace and specificity. James Noone's set design is the play's only element to have suffered in the transition from New York. The Coronet Theatre has a significantly larger playing space than New York's Cherry Lane, thereby requiring the opening up of the set and diminishing the claustrophobia of Sam's world. Still, even in its new digs, Fully Committed plays like a dream. Just remember to be kind when reserving seats. Otherwise, you may find yourself squirming with guilt throughout the play.
"Fully Committed," presented by and at the Coronet Theatre, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills. Tues.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 5 & 8 p.m., Sun. 3 & 7 p.m. Sept. 15-Nov. 19. $25-45. (310) 657-7377.