Review: Friend (The One With Gunther) – online

In the year when the actors who made up the main cast of Friends had their TV reunion, it seems apt that this part tribute, part parody, from the viewpoint of Central Perk’s finest, Gunther, comes to stream.theatre.

Friend rushes through ten series in an hour bringing you the highlights, the lowlights, the supporting cast, the big storylines,and more. It is very funny, wickedly affectionate, and utterly 90s.

Will you appreciate Friend if you are not a fan of the classic sitcom? Maybe. It is shown so often in repeats on numerous channels that all six major characters are ‘types’ most of us know, and their key storylines have been devoured and committed to memory.

This is Gunther’s story, supporting character in more than a hundred episodes. A character so disregarded we don’t even know his last name, although we recognise an approximation of his hair and costume.

Brendan Murphy in Friend

Audience participation – this was filmed in front of a reduced audience at Wilton’s Music Hall – is just right. A dance, a faux ending, a box, a quiz. Various supporting characters get a quick mention, even the chicken and the duck.

This show is very warm-hearted and writer-performer Brendan Murphy has the thwarted sense of ‘not being part of the gang’ off pat, with an almost pathological hatred of Ross. He perhaps doesn’t have the likeable factor that James Michael Tyler brought to the part on camera, but this is Gunther writ large.

With bits of song, a lot of laughs, and a real appreciation of the show, Friend is sharply directed by Hamish McDougall with a firm tongue in cheek (on Richard, “a complete waste of moustache”, on Chandler’s dad, “problematic”).

“No one told you life was gonna be this way”, went the song in the chipper little opening sequence which opened each episode. Get the low down from Gunther on the Gellers, Chandler, Joey and Rachel and enjoy Friend.

Friend is streaming until 25 July – buy your ticket here.

Image credit: Steve Ullathorne.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review Friend (The One With Gunther).

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