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Friends: The One With Gunther | King's Head Theatre

So no-one told him life was gonna be this way. His job’s a joke, he’s out $1500 because of an inside out cat, and his love life is non-existent. Everyone knows the six FRIENDS, the iconic group who spent their lives in a coffee shop in New York City. But everyone seems to forget about the seventh friend - Gunther Central Perk (no, we don’t know his actual surname). He knew all about the group’s lives, then again, everyone else in the coffee shop seemed to mime their conversations, so it was pretty easy to keep up. But where does he fit in all of it?

This is the story of Gunther Central Perk. Well, technically it’s the story of the other six friends, but told by Gunther (Joseph Maudsley). In this show, Maudsley takes us through the years of FRIENDS, using the pretty detailed diaries he kept at the time. Through songs and audience participation, FRIENDS fans get to relive the series they all know and love from the one character they know nothing about, because his invitation always seemed to get lost in the mail. Maudsley recreates some of the show’s most iconic scenes, including new songs by Phoebe, and the famous quiz.

The show opens with the iconic FRIENDS couch in the centre of the stage, seemingly set up as if it were the coffee shop itself. To the right, lies the iconic stool, guitar, and microphone Phoebe used to present her eccentric songs to the world. On the left, a coffee table with a phone, which Gunther uses to call other ‘single-serving friends’ from the show, including Estelle. Through gimmicks and impressions, and somewhat cliché accents, Gunther brings to life the FRIENDS characters in his image, finally shedding light on his true feelings about them.

Through telling his story, Gunther realises that there is nothing wrong with being a side character, a somewhat fleeting presence in someone’s life. Because we are all that person for someone. The important thing is to not take anything for granted, as Gunther accepts that you don’t know how great something is until it is gone.

Brendan Murphy’s play is as close to a sequel as FRIENDS fans are likely to get, and it is the only one we need. Friends: The One With Gunther is funny, nostalgic, and quite original (like Gunther himself). This is perfect tribute to the departed James Michael Tyler, the original Gunther, and it plays at the King's Head Theatre until 26th May before visiting a few more theatres. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Rod Penn


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