Filmed with a live audience in June 2021, FRIEND (The One With Gunther), is a hilarious, fast-paced, one man comedy sketch show. Actor and writer Brenden Murphy takes the audience through the 10 seasons of the sitcom Friends. The show is a mix of audience interaction, song, sketches, and impersonations, hinged around original Friend’s character Gunther.
For any fan of Friends, this show is a must-see. But more than just reminiscing and in-jokes, FRIEND (The One With Gunther) features a high energy and passionate performance by Brenden Murphy, directed by Hamish MacDougall. Murphy brings comic timing, and the ability to quickly transition between characters. His great use of vocal tone and accent, and body language, enable a funny exploration of different characters. Murphy is engaging and quickly gets the audience on board, and keeps them engaged for the entire show.
The show’s set and props are carefully constructed to connect to the original Friends sitcom, and are used creatively by Murphy throughout the show. Lighting design by Robbie Butler enables smooth transitions between scenes, and creates different atmospheres and moods that add to the comic elements. Sound design by Tom Lishman adds to the upbeat energy. The use of recorded and live music blends well. With the lack of other actors, the sound and lighting become ways for Murphy to interact and connect to off-stage characters. The sound and lighting also enable the audience to navigate through the non-linear structure of the show.
Murphy’s best aspect has to be his unashamed audience interaction, and his confidence to engage with the audience, improvise using what he is offered by them, and involve them in the show. The script is full of clever references, jokes, and poignant remarks. As well as offering a chance to laugh, the show also reflects on the original sitcom’s historical, cultural, political, and social context, and what modern day audiences think and feel about that.
FRIEND (The One With Gunther) is a great piece of entertainment. But it may not be to everyone’s taste as the energy is kept at the same intensity throughout, with the same tone and mood maintained. Funny and clever, the show is light-hearted, but niche.
FRIEND (The One With Gunther) is available to stream on demand 19th – 25th July.