"The best part of doing Fully Committed again," says actor Dan Saski, "is that I get to invent these characters all over again—and fix anything I didn't like the last time."
When Saski appears in Becky Mode's popular one-man comedy this week in the Studio at the Sixth Street Playhouse (running Nov. 4–12), it will be the third time he has played the part—or should we say parts—in the last four years. In the play, Sam is an actor languishing between jobs, who makes ends meet working in the basement of a fancy-schmancy New York restaurant. He suffers through a constant barrage of phone calls, begging for reservations. As written by Mode, one solitary actor plays all 42 characters, morphing from the harried Sam into a parade of distinct people, all begging for a reservation.
With this new production, directed by Dodds Delzell, Saski has enjoyed the process of revisiting every character and exploring each with fresh eyes.
"Last time," he allows, "I didn't feel that some of the characters were all that fully realized. Now, four years later, I actually get to do something about that."
Fully Committed (the name is the restaurant's euphemism for "totally booked up") is an incredibly physical, incredibly fast-faced show. Often performed straight through without intermission, the Sixth Street production will actually feature one—something for which Saski is grateful.
"It's actually a lot of fun doing this show in one big rush," Saski says. "It's like running a race, a marathon. And it's really satisfying to get to the end, and say, 'Wow, I made it!' But on the other hand, this is a pretty crazy, exhausting show. So now, I'm kind of looking forward to getting a break in the middle."
According to Saski, the toughest part of this show isn't dashing back and forth across the stage. And it isn't stepping crisply in and out of four dozen characters.
"The toughest part of the show is keeping them all in order," he confesses. "Every time the phone rings, I have to remember who it is, so that I can become that caller. If I remember who it is, then I know the lines. It's a lot of mental discipline."
But the most important thing to remember, Saski has discovered, is very simple, and absolutely crucial.
"I have to remember to take time to breathe," he laughs. "In a show like this, breathing is very, very important."
'Fully Committed' runs Nov. 4–5 and 10–12 in the Studio at Sixth Street Playhouse. 52 W. Sixth St., Santa Rosa. All dates 8pm, with additional Saturday matinees at 2pm on Nov. 5 and 12. $20. 707.523.4185.