Northern Stage 06/09/2019
One of the most talked about (and poorly reviewed) Edinburgh Fringe shows, Miranda Larson’s Friendsical has embarked on a small UK tour after the summer season in Scotland’s capital. The show is marketed as a parody musical inspired by the iconic TV show Friends, and has captured the curiosity of many dedicated fans.
An expectation of a parody is taking a well-loved thing (in this case, Friends) and tastefully mocking it. This show felt less of a parody but more of a series of good impressions and recreated memorable moments, held together loosely by a series of musical numbers. The performance is introduced by Jamie Lee-Morgan as Ross Geller, explaining that this is a show covering Ross and Rachel’s relationship created in his character’s mind with actors playing the parts; a strange concept, but time to start the musical.
The first nine notes of the Friends theme tune are instantly recognised by anyone. Friendsical begins with these notes reworked in an order that still makes them distinguishable, but strange and seemingly done in a way to avoid any copyright infringement. The opening number paves the way for the rest of the songs in the show by being full of energy, feeling a little unnecessary and covering a bit too much content in a few minutes. The voices of the cast are great, particularly Jordan Fox (Joey), however the songs remain fairly forgettable.
With a high level of expectation, the cast do everyone’s beloved characters justice in their portrayals with accurate impersonations. The stand out performance comes from Thomas Mitchells, whose hilarious take on Chandler Bing embodies everything Matthew Perry created in the TV show; from perfecting Chandler’s signature swagger, to his voice and twisted facial expressions it could’ve been Perry stood on the stage. The rest of the cast comically over-act their character’s traits with some finding more difficulty in representation than others.
A muddled storyline taking elements from different seasons of the TV show brings an element of comedy to Friendsical, allowing the cast to take a moment from some scenes and appear confused as to where they are in the overall plot. The story follows the “on again, off again” (as one of the songs detail, with the anticipated line “we were on a break!”) nature of Ross and Rachel’s relationship, lending itself to mock their complicated bond.
Although this is a show that probably won’t be having a West End transfer any time soon, the amount of effort the creative team and actors have put into preparing for this musical is clear. Friendsical is a high energy, fun night out for fans of the TV show wanting to experience some of their favourite parts of the series on stage. Don’t expect a groundbreaking musical, but do expect to be entertained.