What To Do When You Hate All Your Friends
By Larry Kunofsky
Directed by Jacob Krueger
Presented by Four Chairs Theater
Lion Theater, 410 West 42nd St., NYC
Reviewed July 24, 2008
This self proclaimed anti-social comedy could only have been created in the post "Seinfeld" era. Jerry Seinfeld and his funny but essentially unlikable neighbors have permanently set the stage for mismatched but needy young characters that work as unique, off beat, accidental and substitute family of personally satisfying misanthropes.
Your friends may not be as funny or depraved as Kunofsky's five friends, but their saving grace is they're probably not nearly as competitive. It's competition for status and power in "WTDWYHYF" relationships that drives them to their eventual and well deserved alienated ends.
Kunofsky is a deeply insightful observer of human interactions with the writing skills to make them come alive in very shallow characters. These people are't merely victims of prolonged adolescence and it's ego wrecking status games, they relish the pain it brings them. They are socially punishing compulsive missiles seeking victims among their friends. Nearly perfect theater animals.
Matt (Todd A'mour) is a good looking, clearly anti-social young man who intuitively understands that he's not a "people person." He"s a loner sucked into the world of parties by ravishingly perverse Celia (Carrie Keranen) who wants to be adored but never touched. Celia is a manipulative passive aggressive who tortures the ever longing to be liked and maybe one day loved Enid (Amy Staats) who narrates this tale of comedic misery like a gossip columnist in love with minor celebrities.
Major trouble trots in and out of their parties in small dynamic high heeled packages of female trouble named Holly, Nancy, Amanda and Tiff all brilliantly by Susan Louise O'Connor. Each of her roles is differentiated by psychic longing and clichéd urban social angst, making the other women seem almost normal, if not a bit depressed from intimacy deprivation.
Josh Lefkowitz balances the male power ego with four characters - Garret, James, Bob and Phil – who we easily identify as stereotypes. His talents are fully realized as he goes from middle American positivist nerd to high powered obnoxious lawyer who throws his income and status at everyone while he's attempting to control his friends through sheer force of will.
Jacob Krueger's direction moves these characters around the stage with drunken elegance. The stage by Niluka Hotaling is a triumph of entrance and egress diversity.
I don't think I'll ever run into this group of characters as I'm a long way from high school cliques. But for audiences raised on "Seinfeld" and "Friends" this is a good night of laughter and sarcasm with a bit of sexual perversity.
When I left WTDWYHAYF I felt lucky to have my own motley collection of friends whom I see and talk to on a regular status crazed basis.
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