Kudos to the Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC) in Norwalk, CT to be one of only three Equity approved companies in the nation to be allowed to hold an in-person production. The theater has chosen wisely by presenting the one-man comedy, Fully Committed. This mitigates many issues that would be associated with the presentation of a socially distance show.
For this production, no more than 23 individuals are permitted in the audience of the 110 seat theater. Most theatergoers will only be able to view a real-time stream from the comfort of their homes.
On opening night, I chose to watch via the live stream to see how a live theater-going experience may be different when watching on a good sized television screen.
The MTC did a very good job with the streaming of the show, but with one character and a single, unchanging backdrop the set-up wasn’t too difficult, at least from my vantage point. The real test, though, was viewing the production from afar and here the feel was not that stimulating. Live, in-person, theater has an immediacy to it. There is a shared group experience by the audience and a close connection to the action on stage. Through the lens of the live stream the emotional relationship is dulled.
So, how did this affect my viewing of Fully Committed? While the show had its humorous moments, for me, there was too much of a disconnect to thoroughly enjoy the production. The sound quality was not always crisp and the lighting came across as somewhat muted, less vibrant.
Matt Densky, plays Sam, an actor waiting for his big break. During his down time he slaves over the telephone reservation line in the basement of one of the most exclusive restaurants in New York City. The dour and melancholy employee is constantly barraged by big shots and everyday people with feeble appeals, bullying threats, and cajoling pleas for a prized lunch or dinner reservation. In addition, his co-worker is missing in action, the upstairs staff is uncaring to his needs, and the chef is a scolding, unsympathetic and disinterested dolt.
This light weight, 80 minute one act is fitfully funny, poignant and entertaining, nothing more, nothing less. Densky is a man constantly in motion as he flits from telephone to desk to pacing around his cramped subterranean headquarters. Along the way, he portrays numerous characters—from persons desperately trying to make a reservation, to family members, to the employees of the unnamed dining spot. The actor continually immerses his own persona into the jumble of characters he impersonates. He is mostly even-tempered, yet a bundle of kinetic energy.
Playwright Becky Mode gives a knowing nod to the frenetic world of restaurant reservations. She packs the show with amusing quips and incidents. One ongoing scenario has the assistant to actress Gwyneth Paltrow constantly calling with one more outrageous request after another including bringing her own lightbulb to the restaurant to make sure she is not bathed in a harsh glow. Mode gives the play an easygoing, plausible narrative structure, which by its conclusion sees Sam move from a woeful nobody to a more assertive somebody.
Kevin Connors direction is effective as he guides Densky through his chaotic paces. The actor incorporates a multitude of nuanced gestures, facial ticks, and vocal somersaults to the bevy of characters portrayed. The result is a somewhat engaging piece of theater.
Fully Committed runs through Sunday, September 27, 2020. Performances are Friday at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. For In-person tickets call the Box Office at 203-454-3883. Live stream tickets can be purchased online at https://www.musictheatreofct.com/fullycommitted