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Theatre Review: Jeff Horst shines in Fully Committed

Lisa Much Lisa Much Theatre Review: Jeff Horst shines in Fully CommittedJeff Horst plays 40 different characters in CATCO’s Fully Committed, a comedy about a powerhouse dealmaker at a top Manhanttan restaurant and the lengths well-heeled patrons will to to land ther perfect table. Nov. 6-24 at the Vern Riffe Center, Studio Two Theatre, 77 S. High St. Photo credit: Red Generation Photography
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Jeff Horst plays 40 different characters in CATCO’s Fully Committed, a comedy about a powerhouse dealmaker at a top Manhanttan restaurant and the lengths well-heeled patrons will to to land their perfect table. Photo credit: Red Generation Photography

Tonight, CATCO opens its newest show, the Columbus premiere of Fully Committed. A funny, charming, and quirky story of Sam Peliczowski, a young actor who makes his money taking reservations at a posh New York restaurant. The play occurs over the course of one day in the windowless, basement of the restaurant as Sam endures snobby socialites, entitled jerks, and terrible bosses and coworkers. Throughout the show, the phone rarely stops ringing, and Sam encounters some forty other people in the chaotic mess of his day. Oh, also, all forty of the characters in this show are played by one man.

Director Steven Anderson leads a fierce team that makes a well paced production. Michael S. Brewer creates a dim, scattered and slightly kitschy set that looks as though employees discarded bits of their souls there for years. Jarod Wilson incorporates some playful lighting by using campy holiday decorations, and Keya Myers-Alkire designs a soundscape that makes the audience want to rip their hair out, which is probably a good vibe for this show, given its nature and endless phone calls.

Of course, everyone wants to know about Sam, as well as the many other characters. Jeff Horst performs with full, robust energy and impressive stamina. The careful distinctions between characters, with only a couple caricatures, go a long way toward the heart-warming nature of the production. In reality, no one can truly say anything bad about anyone who can perform this 90+ minute show. Honestly, Fully Committed is exhausting. Just exhausting. The audience grows tired watching and listening. It feels like a full day of really hard and trying work, and Horst brings a patience to Sam that is nearly godly. That alone makes the audience love Sam.

While Jeff Horst steals the show, obviously as the only performer, and a fine one at that, I would still argue that this is a two person show. Really, the phone is an entirely separate character, with cues and lines. Naturally, if the phone does not ring, the play could stall. A sincere tip of the proverbial hat to stage manager Deb Colvin-Tener, whose timed cues and potential split-second adjustments from the sound and light boards keep the show flowing. Between Horst and Colvin-Tener, the show moves seamlessly creating a true symbiotic relationship that requires a lot of trust.

Trust seems like an odd concept one could pull from this show, but it struck me. Trust that things will be okay. Throughout his day, Sam hears people say, “Don’t let the big guys get you down” or “It’ll be okay.” However, no one really knows that. We just trust. Even in the midst of s*** (perhaps literally), we trust that things will become okay, sometimes good, even great perhaps. Yes, today was awful, but this is not my life, just a moment in the timeline of my existence. Things will become better. The audience feels this hope emanate from Sam, leaving us with much more than a good laugh or a night out, but a reminder of our relationship with time, trust, and hope.

Fully Committed plays through Nov. 14 at Studio Two in the Vern Riffe Center, 77 S. High Street. General Admission is $41.00 on Thurs. and Sun.; $45.00 on Fri. and Sat. More information can be found online at Catco.org.

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