The Theatreguide.London Review
Menier Chocolate Factory Autumn 2014
The Menier revives one of its early successes in this new production of Becky Mode's solo show, a thoroughly delightful romp that is also a showcase for the performer's versatility, energy and mastery of his craft.
Kevin Bishop plays the reservations clerk for a posh and trendy New York restaurant, the guy whose job is to answer phones and explain that there are no tables available for the next two months – unless, of course, you're a VIP or have some tit-for-tat to offer.
The playwright doesn't just give us this character's side of the conversations, but all the other voices, and Bishop goes through instant vocal and physical transformations as he plays at least thirty different callers, along with a half-dozen co-workers on the intercom and the prima donna chef on his own hotline.
In between juggling all these, the operator finds time to make a few outside calls of his own, to his widowed father back in Indiana, to his agent – yes, of course he's an out-of-work actor – and to a fellow actor bragging about how well his career is going.
There is a lot of fun in watching Bishop's skill in this juggling act, and more in the colourful characters he creates coming out of the phone. There's the supermodel's assistant making ever more outlandish demands, the tourist without a clue, the little old lady wanting a senior discount, the Mafia don, the maitre d' who judges customers by their beauty, the other reservations clerk with excuses for not showing up to work today, and plenty more.
At an hour and a quarter this extended sketch might be stretched a little thin, but the playwright, director Mark Setlock (who played the role ten years ago) and the admirable Kevin Bishop keep the momentum and forward movement building toward a very satisfying conclusion, and you'll go out into the night quite happy – and perhaps not too late to get a table at a restaurant of your choice.
Review - Fully Committed - Menier Chocolate Factory 2014
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