Lawrence Harbison, our very own critic, ordinarily brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York; but since the New York theatre is closed down for the foreseeable future, in this column Larry reports on shows you can stream on your computer or other preferred gizmo.
I saw and loved the original production over 20 years ago off Broadway of Becky Mode’s Fully Committed but missed it’s Broadway incarnation starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The original actor was great (who he was, I don’t remember) and I’m sure Ferguson was wonderful, too. Now, the George Street Playhouse is streaming the play, featuring Maulik Pancholy as a man who works the reservations desk at a hot-hot-hot Manhattan restaurant, the kind of joint that’s booked (i.e., “fully committed”) weeks in advance. In addition to himself, he does the voices of hordes of desperate people who simply must have a table tonight as well as singularly unhelpful members of the restaurant’s staff.
Pancholy is enjoyable as he juggles all the callers. He reminded me of the order dept. clerks at Samuel French when I was there – just as frazzled. But he’s not particularly funny. This is not so much because of him, but because of the medium in which the play is presented – Zoomed dramas are OK on Zoom, but comedies fall flat for lack of a live audience.
Soon, God willing and the creek don’t rise, Zoomed theatre will be an unpleasant memory as it recedes into the distant past. To which I say, good riddance.
"It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry."
— George F. Will
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
— Theodore Roosevelt