Review: Friendsical at Kingston Rose theatre is great for superfans but otherwise lacking

By Abigail Cutler
September 20 2019, 12.45

To call myself a Friends fan would be an understatement.

I have watched the television series from start to end countless times, bought more merchandise than I would like to admit, I proudly display my boxset in my room, and can pretty much quote every episode at this point.

I have even attended FriendsFest, a festival dedicated to fans of the show, not once but twice.

So when the UK tour of Friendsical was announced, I thought this would be the most appropriate show for my pop culture tastes since Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

I popped down to the Rose Theatre in Kingston last Saturday with fairly low expectations; after all, the show does brand itself as a parody musical and nothing more.

I thought there would be a few fun references to the television series, some imitations of the six friends we know and love, and maybe a couple of decent songs.

Whilst I was correct in these estimations, however, the show was severely lacking.

The premise of the ‘story’ is that Ross Geller (Jamie Lee-Morgan) has called back his friends to perform a musical spectacular, in which they retell the infamous Ross and Rachel storyline that progressed over the 10 series.

He warns the gang and audience that the timeline of events may be very mixed up in his portrayal of the pair’s love story, which admittedly prevented the show from simply being a re-enactment of all 236 episodes.

Indeed, the cast often quipped about the convoluted nature of several plotlines in the long-running series.

Ultimately, however, this element of the show was fairly problematic.

To writer Miranda Larson’s credit, it is fairly impressive to fit 10 series’ worth of content, both Ross and Rachel-related and not, into just two and a half hours.

Nonetheless, attempting to keep track of whether Ross and Rachel were dating, whether they were ‘on a break’, and whether she was pregnant or not with Emma, their baby born at the end of the eighth series, became very hard.

Without an in-depth knowledge of Friends’ timelines, audience members might struggle.

Other aspects of the show were more successful; the stripped-down sets of Central Perk and the gang’s apartments worked well in this hectic production, and the cast were mostly spot on with their impressions.

After acclimatising to Lee-Morgan’s squeaky, over-emphasised Ross, you realise that actually his mannerisms are entirely accurate.

Ally Retberg’s Phoebe was also excellent with her airy, kooky nature, but her cameos as Chandler’s on-again-off-again girlfriend Janice are even more hilarious.

Thomas Mitchells performs an extraordinary Matthew Perry impression as Chandler, and Sarah Goggin displays Monica’s desperate desire for organisation and order in everything perfectly.

As parodies go, Friendsical isn’t bad.

If you’ve never seen Friends in your life, or if you’ve only watched the occasional episode here and there, this content will go over your head entirely and make no sense.

If you are a Friends superfan, it is okay.

The songs, whilst fun and enjoyable at the time, are almost instantly forgettable, and most of the plot is essentially a word-for-word recreation of what we see on our television screens.

However, the redeeming features are the cast and nostalgia Friendsical provides, and if you are looking for something fun to take up your evening this could be just what you need.

Overall a fun show, but could it BE any better? I think so.

Friendsical will play at Ashcroft Playhouse, part of Fairfield Halls, in Croydon from October 28 to November 2.

Feature image credit: Dale Wightman.

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