Voicing the Truth of Fine Dining: A Review of Fully Committed at the Grand Theatre

Photos by Dahlia Katz

Fully Committed, directed by Steven Gallagher, is an incredible feat for one actor to perform. Gavin Crawford performs over forty unique voices in a single production. It is impossible to refrain from being in awe of the entire spectacle.

The entire plot follows Sam, a struggling actor who was recently rejected from an HBO special. Sam works at an affluent restaurant with an A-list chef and famous guests, including Gwenyth Paltrow and Anderson Cooper. The restaurant is always fully committed, but it is Sam’s job to cater to the whims of the upper echelons of society, squeezing in bookings and special requests from the rich and influential.

The set, by Michael Gianfrancesco, is a nice greeting to the show, filled with the hustle and bustle of the underbelly of a fancy restaurant. Papers line the walls in a chaotic fashion, neon signs give a sense of trendiness, and a desk with a phone sits prominently at centre stage. The whole atmosphere evokes the day-to-day anxieties of the working world.

As Sam, Crawford is dressed smartly in a plaid shirt and vest. He has a simple pair of jeans and brown shoes, signaling that Sam is a modern man. The costuming is a perfect representation of time period and a clear reflection of the character’s need to work hard in a tedious career.

For an hour and a half, Crawford is the sole individual on stage. You can tell that comedic shows are his strength and love in life because his energy is spectacular. Crawford is incredibly comfortable leading a difficult show on his own.

The most brilliant thing about this show is Crawford’s ability to transform in front of the audience over forty different times. Crawford’s portrayal of Sam is lovable, but it is such a spectacle to see him change character. He adapts the physicality of each guest and staff member in a matter of seconds. For example, when Crawford slips into the character of Sam’s friend, he becomes loose, using the side of the set to move his body along with every word. In contrast, when Crawford voices the chef, his posture becomes hypermasculinized and imposing.

A couple of minor criticisms include the confusion that comes with voice acting so many different parts. Crawford oftentimes possessed a blend in voices that made it confusing to decipher what character he was portraying. Mix-ups were not frequent, but at some points, the voices needed to be better defined or drawn out to allow audience members to recognise the character being used at the time.

The show is a comedy, but the voices are sometimes very stereotypical or simply predictable. I do admit that I enjoyed every single one, but some twists on presentation could have spiced up the performance. For example, the low voices that represented old women is a trope that has been seen in comedy for years. Fully Committed has the opportunity to allow a single actor to challenge stereotypes and provide a refreshing quality to “broken record” tropes.

Fully Committed is an undeniable treat. The show offers something for every theatregoers’ palette. With references to Food Network chefs and other modern celebrities, the show is rooted in the real life struggles of those who work in the restaurant industry. Additionally, the show gives a “behind the scenes” look at the corruption present in a field that deals with affluent individuals. For example, exploitation of lower ranked staff and the acceptance of bribery. The issues are shown in a light manner, but the situations allow viewers to question the operations of a fine dining establishment.

For more information about this show, please visit https://www.grandtheatre.com/event/fully-committed

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