BWW Review: FRIENDS LIVE at SF Oasis: a campy adaptation of one of the most popular television sitcoms of all time
Directed by Nancy French
D'Arcy Drollinger and her compatriots at SF Oasis have turned parodies of legendary television sitcoms into a cash cow (Golden Girls, Three's Company) with regular sold out houses of appreciative (and well lubricated) millennials eager to see what all the fuss was about decades ago. Now, Nancy French directs and stars in a very camp adaptation of Friends, one of the most popular TV series of all time.
The premise of Friends was simple, following the comedic and romantic adventures of six quirky New York City GenXers; fashion enthusiast Rachel, chef Monica, struggling actor Joey Tribbiani, business professional Chandler Bing, masseuse and musician Phoebe Buffay, and newly divorced paleontologist Ross Geller.
Over its 10 seasons, the character became clearly defined, easily identifiable in their quirkiness and foibles. French concatenates the first two episodes here, introducing her cast who do their best to quickly display those identifying traits, of course exaggerating every movement, verbal tick or facial mugging to increase comic effect.
The audience is more than eager to receive the high-camp theatrics offered here. Added gay references are met with howls of laughter. While the material itself isn't particularly fine comedy, French and cast know how to mine the gags successfully. Monica's (Steven LeMay) cleanliness phobia, Joey's (Melanie Marshall) macho libido, Ross' (Carol Walker) meek whining, Phoebe's (Sue Casa) daft musical skills, Chandler's (Nancy French) sarcasm and Rachel's (Caleb Haven Draper) narcissism all get their fair share of the pie.
French adds some cute touches: vintage TV ads (Hot Pockets, Mentos, Meow Mix) and a recreation of the famous Phoebe "Smelly Cat" video. Set design is by Sarah Phykitt, Lighting Design by Sophia Craven, Videos by Richard Neveu and Costumes by Carrie Davis. Friends Live delivers exactly what audiences expected - silly, campy fun.
Friends Live continues through March 2nd, 2019 at SF Oasis, 298 Eleventh Street, San Francisco. Tickets are available at www.sfoasis.com or by calling (415) 795-3180.
Photo by Gooch.