The third of four streamed shows from Seabright Productions fimed live at Wilton's Music Hall is a new spin of one of the biggest TV phenomenens of all time - the timeless classic that is Friends. With a legion of fans - some who still love it from watching it when it first aired to a new generation who weren't even born when the series began, the series has stood the test of time. This new one-man show looks at the series through the eyes of the "seventh Friend", the ever-present but not always noticed Gunther.
Written and performed by Brendan Murphy, Gunther takes us through all 10 seasons, 236 episodes and 5192 minutes (in a hilarious nod to RENT) in one impressive hour. As you can imagine, the pace ie relentless as Murphy frantically recaps classic moments from the 10 years of the series through his own perspective, never coming up for air.
There are many references to the problematic issues that has come with elements of the show not aging well, such as the homophobic references, casting issues and the lack of diversity in the cast. However, rather than use this as an opportunity to address the issues, these are brushed aside as quickly as they were in the series itself.
There are some fantastic one-liners in this show, though some of the jokes fall flat, and some of the characterisations feel stretched. Murphy's "Mr Central Perk" isn't the Gunther you know and love. The series' Gunther was quiet and introverted. Murphy's Gunther couldn't be more different - feeling more like the internal monologue the barista never dared to voice. However unexpected his portrayal may be, there is no denying the talent of Murphy to whizz through such a madcap show without pausing for breath.
A pleasant set made to look like some of the more memorable moments of the series make for some brilliant sight-gags - there is even the opportunity for an audience member to help Pivot a sofa, while another poor member of the audience has to watch the show in a box... but not the box you would usually find in a theatre.
Die-hard fans of Friends will love this new take on the series, even if it isn't what they expect. More casual viewers may be lost with some of the more niche references and those that have never seen the show will be completely confused. A fun hour of theatre if nothing groundbreaking. Murphy's charisma makes this show better than perhaps it ought to be - a compelling and naturally hilarious performer, he ensures that while some of the parts could undoubtedly be tightened up, it is still very much worth a watch.
Friend (The One WIth Gunther) is streaming until Sunday 25th July from www.stream.theatre/season/158
The show is also touring the UK. See http://onewithgunther.com/ for more