Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Phoenix

Fully Committed
The Phoenix Theatre Company
Review by Gil Benbrook

Also see Gil's review of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Alison Campbell
Photo by Brennen Russell, Blink Sessions Photography
Becky Mode's Fully Committed is a hilariously frantic yet heartwarming depiction of life behind the scenes at an exclusive New York City restaurant. The one-person, one-act play provides a showcase for an extraordinary feat of acting, requiring a single performer to embody more than 40 distinct characters. With impeccable timing, energy, depth and versatility, Alison Campbell shines in the Phoenix Theatre Company production.

The plot centers on Sam, an out-of-work actor manning the reservation line at one of Manhattan's trendiest eateries. Taking place over a 90-minute period of a harrowing day, Sam fields a barrage of calls from a colorful cast of characters, ranging from self-centered socialites to assistants to celebrities, desperate foodies, the restaurant's demanding chef, and members of Sam's own family.

One of the most impressive aspects of Mode's script is how the play balances humor with genuine emotion. The script has many laugh-out-loud moments but also presents a poignant reflection on the challenges of pursuing one's dreams in the face of relentless pressure, negativity and adversity. Sam's interactions with the eccentric characters are frequently hilarious, but the beauty in the play is how Mode crafted Sam's conversations with the other characters to reveal layers of Sam that expose deeper themes of ambition, self-worth, and the human desire for recognition and respect. The play is based on characters Mode created with Mark Setlock, who played Sam in the original Off-Broadway production.

Each caller, with their unique quirks and demands, is brought to life with astonishing clarity by Campbell, who switches seamlessly between personas and sexes, capturing the essence of each character with mere shifts in voice, accent, posture, and facial expression. Campbell's tour-de-force performance is phenomenal. Her ability to sustain such high energy levels, while delivering distinct and memorable portrayals of each character, is a testament to her talent and stamina. The rapid-fire dialogue and fast-paced conversations between multiple people require impeccable comedic timing and Campbell never misses a beat. She also manages to constantly keep the audience engaged throughout. You truly feel that you fully understand the many layers of Sam after spending 90 minutes watching Campbell navigate her way through the interactions the character has with dozens of characters. Campbell alternates performances with Wesley Bradstreet in the role.

Chelsea Anderson's direction beautifully emphasizes the play's fast-paced rhythm and plays up the comedic and dramatic tension but also makes sure to allow the heartfelt and poignant moments to resonate. The combination of Douglas Clarke's excellent set design and Sarah Harris' realistic props perfectly capture the claustrophobic chaos of Sam's basement office. The cluttered desk, ringing phones, restaurant supplies, and notes tacked on the walls create an authentic environment as well as a complete understanding of the overwhelming nature of Sam's job and the difficulties the character faces working in such a confining environment. The clever use of Nathaniel White's lighting and Chris Neumeyer's sound design further enhances the realistic atmosphere.

Fully Committed highlights the chaos of life in the service industry while also offering a humorous and heartfelt exploration of someone who is trying to fulfill their dreams. Phoenix Theatre Company's production features a wonderful performance by Alison Campbell and crisp direction that allows for Mode's sharp and insightful look into the high-stakes world of fine dining and the story of one person struggling to make their way in the world to shine and shine brightly.

Fully Committed runs through August 11, 2024, at The Phoenix Theatre Company, 1825 N Central Avenue, Phoenix AZ. For tickets and information, please visit phoenixtheatre.comcall 602-254-2151.

Director: Chelsea Anderson
Scenic Designer: Douglas Clarke
Lighting Designer: Nathaniel White
Costume, Hair + Makeup Designer and Properties Master: Sarah Harris
Sound Designer: Chris Neumeyer
Director of Production: Karla Frederick
Stage Manager: Katherine Roll Lang *

Sam: Alison Campbell

*Members of ActorsÂ’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors & stage managers in the U.S.