BWW REVIEW: A Reminder To Be Kind, Even To The Person At The End Of A Phone, FULLY COMMITTED Is A Fabulous Comedy Showcasing The Contessa Treffone's Versatility
Tuesday 15th October 2019, 8:15pm, Ensemble Theatre
Contessa Treffone shines in Becky Mode's fabulous solo comedy about how people treat those they feel are beneath them in FULLY COMMITTED. Directed by Kate Champion, this fast past piece holds many moments of recognition for anyone who has worked in customer service and hopefully will serve as a lesson for those on the other end of the phone, to nicer to the people that are just trying to do their job.The premise of FULLY COMMITTED is that Sam (Treffone) is a struggling actress, recently graduated from university, paying the bills by answering phones in the subterranean reservations call room of one of Sydney's new wave of obnoxiously pretentious 'molecular gastronomy' restaurants. The 'fully committed' of the title is yet another of the pompous buzz words that some overpaid and overinflated American customer service consultant has convinced people, particularly the restaurant's spoilt brat of a Head Chef, is a better way of saying 'fully booked', which the establishment is for the next 3 months. In addition to the sweet natured Sam, Treffone also portrays all of the characters on the other end of the multitude of phones that fill her bleak bunker. From the reservations manager Bob who has supposedly broken down on the M4, the unhelpful Maitre'd Jean Claude demanding to know why he is fielding people that aren't in the booking's register in the restaurant above, the sleazy and childish Head Chef who thinks nothing of keeping people waiting, the doting father wanting her to come home for Christmas, the frenemy who likes boasting she has a audition callback and the plethora of customers who feel they can demand a table at the exclusive eatery at the last minute, Treffone morphs effortlessly between Sam and the callers with on point vocal and physical changes, keeping the 30 odd characters straight throughout. Originally written for an American audience, having made its world Premiere in Lake George New York, some references are adapted for a local feel whilst others retain a degree of New York about them, like the Upper East Side Styled Bunny Vandervere. Others easily translate as their characteristics exhibit a universality and high 'power' international celebrities help add weight to the premise that the restaurant is so sought after as the place to be and be seen. Whilst other productions represent the calls as coming into a single phone, set and costume designer Anna Tregloan reinforces the madness of the incoming calls with benches filled with phones surrounding the staircase up to the restaurant floor above, further utilizing Treffone's fabulous physical comedy as she dashes around the stage. Red lights illuminate on the affected phones with lights remaining blinking when Sam has put them on hold, helping to highlight the chaos. The ground floor landing and stairs down to the basement help add vertical variety while also reinforcing how disconnected Sam can feel from the world above with little to no mobile reception as she waits for an audition call back and has no idea that the kitchen has set out the staff lunch up above. This 90 minute work is a wonderfully fun and honest (if hopefully a little exaggerated) expression of the realities of dealing with the public from the perspective of the workers in the hospitality and customer service industry. Hopefully it serves as a reminder to everyone to be kind as you never know what else is going on in in someone else's life. It also reinforces that it pays to remember that even though you may think throwing your perceived status and 'power' around, the people that serve actually hold a lot of power should they wish to use it and you get a lot further with being nice.
Photos: Prudence Upton