• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Fringe 2023: Friend (The One with Gunther)

ByIone Gildroy

Aug 7, 2023
An image of a blonde man in front of an orange sofa holding a book

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I’m not sure if I just didn’t quite understand what Friend (The One with Gunther) was going to be, or if it didn’t deliver, but either way I was somewhat disappointed.

Friend (The One with Gunther) claims to be a re-imagining of the television classic, through the eyes of the barista and recurring character Gunther. The show is created by the team behind Buffy Revamped, so they know what they’re doing.

I expected the show to focus more on different sides of storylines that any Friends fan will know and love. I don’t think Friend (The One with Gunther) offered this at all. There are no new insights in the show, and it doesn’t add anything new to the Friends world. Brendan Murphy spends most of the show simply name checking plot points and characters. Some of this is lightly humorous – some of his impressions are funny, but these are often repeated, taken too far and so become not so funny. Laughs often come because of the references made to plots and characters, that are funny because Friends is funny. One audience member is invited on stage to help Murphy move his sofa. If you’ve seen Friends, you know what’s coming next. Yes, Murphy yells ‘pivot’, the audience laughs, and it’s onto the next bit.

While some impressions are good, and Murphy is an enjoyable performer to watch, his Gunther doesn’t feel like the Gunther we know and maybe love. He feels more like a flimsy guide through the Friends world, reminding us of the storylines and characters without much context.

It’s a show of skits, songs and dances, with wigs, props and audience involvement. It is fun and light-hearted, just lacking anything to really make it stand out.

While the script lacks some depth, the audience didn’t seem to care too much. If you’re looking to be reunited with your favourite characters for an hour and revisit some classic moments, this light-hearted show may be for you. Or maybe just go and watch Friends again. 

Friend (The One with Gunther) is on at 4pm at Gilded Balloon at the Museum until 27 August (not 9, 16, 23). Tickets are available here.

Image by Rod Penn, provided to The Student as press material.

By Ione Gildroy

Former Deputy Editor-in-Chief Former News Editor