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BWW Review: WE'RE NOT FRIENDS at Zephyr Theatre


Performed at the 2021 SheLA Summer Theater Festival.

BWW Review: WE'RE NOT FRIENDS at Zephyr Theatre

What's really at stake when three disconnected people get together in the same room out of familial responsibility when the only thing that two of them want to do is leave?

WE'RE NOT FRIENDS by Carolyn Ullman, explores the question, "Why can't siblings be friends?" In this case, two older sisters come home at the behest of their mom, to give moral support to their baby sister after she suffers an extraordinary and unexplainable anxiety attack.

"I'm just broken." But is she? Or, rather, is she the only one?

How is it that siblings can be absolutely superficial with one another? Seemingly not care, have time, or energy, or desire to go deep and really hear what the others are saying? Is, not knowing enough about one another, or knowing too much that creates the barrier to intimacy?

For all of them, it seems detachment provides security in an abstract world that allows them to compartmentalize feelings and friends. None of them wants to really be alone. But being truly intimate with anyone else teeters on something a little scarier. And trusting each other with the truth, well, that's just plain crazy.

There is a sweet and sour texture to this play especially as the youngest sister gets pushed further into the background of the others' lives. Older siblings hash out old wounds until they are abruptly called back into the reality of the present by the person they came to support. But even after more than 43 minutes into the show, I couldn't quite figure out what any of them wanted, which might be the point. None either knows or wants to admit, that all they want is to get a little therapeutically closer. But being sisters isn't doing it. Sometimes you've just got to be nothing more than friends. It's a subtlety often lost in relationships. But here, happily reclaimed.

One the new era of live streaming, Zooming, and YouTubing, every show offering performances in this genre would benefit from setting up more than one camera as if you're doing live television. Pointing directly to the stage with a single doesn't read well or play to "the back of the house." A show this intimate really deserves the proximity of being up close for the audience.

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