Thursday, October 6

Friend (The One With Gunther) – Edinburgh Fringe

70 minutes to recap Friends? Starting with Rachel’s wedding day catastrophe and then ending with the one where they all leave? Everyone’s favourite coffee shop manager, Gunther (Brendan Murphy) gives it his best shot. There’s absolutely no stone unturned, from Janice to Joey (yes, *that* spin off).

Murphy is a tour de force, leaping back and forth over the famous sofa, changing from Richard Burke to Janice quicker than you can say ‘we were on a break’, and spitting quote after quote with hilarious impressions at lightning speed. The stamina and versatility on show from Murphy is remarkable. Supported by impressive lights and sound cues, it’s only the setting of the venue that leaves it feeling slightly amateurish.

Is it a homage, a critique, a satire, a celebration? We’re not sure. But it’s jam-packed to the rafters with every single part of the show a fan could want. No stone is unturned in Murphy’s quest for the Friends ‘Sublime’. Furthermore, Murphy isn’t afraid to address the concerns on everyone’s minds- the bits of friends that really haven’t stood the test of time, and that does include its penchant for body shaming and LGBTQ+ slurs.

This show has it all; audience participation, open mic songs and character analysis (or should that be assassination?). The absolute writing highlight of this entire production is Murphy’s homage to Eminem’s Stan in a intertextuality mish mash of everything nineties, noughties, Friends and beyond. This part, like everything else, adds to the sumptuous nostalgic jaunt that makes us want to go book in with our hairdressers for a ‘Rachel’ and fire up our long dead Tamagotchis. The portrayal of Gunther isn’t exactly true to form, but that doesn’t seem to matter, no one was here for an accurate likeness, were they?

Never seen friends before? This will feel too much like an unstoppable roller coaster you can’t get off. Quote friends in your sleep? This will more than hit the spot.

Reviewer: Melissa Jones

Reviewed: 21st August 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★