Edinburgh Fringe 2023
This is a hilarious 70 minute romp through 236 episodes/10 seasons of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. presented by Gunther, the manager of Central Perk—yes, the one who was obsessed with Rachel.
Gunther was the constant background character who worked in the coffee shop that was regularly frequented by the Friends gang during the 10 seasons of FRIENDS. Now, Gunther considers himself the 7th friend; the one who has the true scoop on what the fun team was really like; the one who (in his mind) really should have ended up with Rachel; the one who wasn’t appreciated (again in his mind) as mush as he should have been. Written by Brendan Murphy, directed by Hamish MacDougall and superbly performed by Joseph Maudsley, this show is chock-full of good-time vibes.
Gunther (Maudsley) starts out seated on the coffee shop’s iconic orange sofa, and proceeds to take us on a speed trip down memory lane allowing the nineties to sparkle back to life. The minute The Rembrandts classic hit theme song “I’ll be there for You” blasts out the speakers, the enthused audience clap along in the right places. It’s a feel-good song and sets the mood perfectly—we know we’re in for a fun ride.
Maudsley spoofs on multiple characters; Phoebe, Ross, Chandler, Joey, ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends; remember Tom Selleck with his mustache and Janice with her annoying voice? There are parodies galore, short riffs on the guitar, goofy skits, that annoying 90’s Macarena dance, and even a nod to the 90’s game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.
There’s a fast and frenzied energy to this show, as if we too are sitting on that orange sofa in Central Perk going on a massive caffeine bender along with Gunther who drinks straight out of his coffee pot throughout. Gunther gyrates, sings, impersonates, yells, and boldly prances about to bring you gut-busting comedy sketches and alternative endings to various story-lines of FRIENDS. Towards the end, Gunther pulls a “guest” Rachel up on stage to read the lines that help bring him closure on his unrequited love, and we love him for it. Even if you’ve never seen an episode of the TV show, Gunther is still bound to entertain you.