Monday, June 25, 2012

Martin Burke IS Fully Committed

photo by Kirk Tuck (c)

I LOVE MARTIN BURKE!! When I saw him in The Drowsy Chaperone, I invited him to come and live with me (we're still working out logistics). When I saw him in The Santaland Diaries, I almost liked Christmas for ninety full minutes. When I heard he was playing at ZACH in Fully Committed, I made room in my schedule-with-no-room-in-it.

I was not disappointed. Oh no, I was not!!

So, okay, by applause: How many of you saw The Drowsy Chaperone? Over the top fab, right? Remember Martin, as The Man in the Chair, dancing around to the musical in his head/apartment? Now, do you remember the scene where he, TMITC, gets so pissed off at his phone for ringing and interrupting his joy that he essentially beats the hell out of the phone? Do you remember how HILARIOUS that was? Warren and I still laugh over that one.

That scene was so funny, it made me wish there could be a whole play starring Martin and a phone. Enter Fully Committed! That's right, it's my dream come true. Martin plays about forty different characters in this comedy that takes us into a day in the life of Sam, a downtrodden aspiring actor who works as a reservations operator/human doormat for some uber-swank New York restaurant. On this particular day, his coworkers have gone AWOL, leaving him alone to the task of fielding endless overlapping calls from spoiled socialites, mobsters, tourists, his dad, his brother, the restaurant's terrorist owner, and Naomi Campbell's flaming assistant, Bryce among others. Everyone wants something Sam can't give them-- most want a table but the place sells out months in advance. The show's title is a nice play on both the chef-owner's insistence on using a particular phrase to explain the dearth of seats and also the ward Sam is going to be heading to if he doesn't find a way to escape the madness.

Me and my Honey Bunny (well, a cardboard version anyway)

Fully Committed is on the intimate Whisenhunt Stage, in the round. We sat on the front row, often within shoulder massaging distance of Martin, and watching him so up close, the sweat on his neck as he transforms into Chef, the nail filing he engages in when he transforms into the whiny assistant of his agent, and all the other characters he brings to life... well all I can say is Super Wow. Honestly I have no clue how he does it, and does it so well.

Besides Sam, for whom it is very easy to root, there is the equally strong and dominant character, Jean-Claude, the Maitre D with the French accent and matching French attitude. With just a single prop, a flowing white hanky, and a shift of accent, Martin instantly becomes this howlingly funny Frenchman. When it's time to play Chef, the switch comes courtesy of much nostril flaring and bull-like snorts. And so it goes-- with seemingly tiny maneuvers Martin delivers massively masterful multiple personalities.

I realize now that I got a little mixed up at Fully Committed. Not at the insane number of characters Martin plays, and plays so well. But I realize I got mixed up in switching back and forth between suspending my disbelief, inhabiting the world of Sam & company, and being spellbound by Martin's astonishing ability to hold that entire script in his head, to switch and switch and switch and switch again, to make us believe ALL the characters.

This is an especially great show to be playing now, in this godforsaken oppressive heat. So nice to get some cool laughs and fits of giggles. For anyone who has ever worked a crap job, for anyone who has every struggled with trying to learn how to stand up when being squashed down by idiots, aw, hell, for anyone who has ever had an irritating phone conversation... (so, yeah, all of us) Fully Committed is thoroughly enjoyable. Oh Martin! You did it again! Thank you! Now hurry up and move in with me.

Y'all better call NOW for reservations, before Naomi Campbell has her assistant call and buy up all the tickets. Here's a link for tix. 

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