Review by Taylor Kendal
The dating world has long been something that eludes the masses since the dawn of time. Relationships overall can sometimes be complicated and confusing and quite frankly a mess at the best of times, let alone the added complications and stress of dating and seeking out personal relationships in a 21st century world, especially when some of us simply aren’t well equipped to deal with that kind of thing. It is a relief for those who have felt this way at one point or other, that you are not alone – far from it. Daring to tackle these complicated and terrifying thoughts, and handle many more, is Friends of Mine, a new comedy written by Kim McCreanor, performing for a limited run at The Butterfly Club.
Monique is 24, full of eccentricities and unbelievable self-doubt, and she is going on a date. Obviously, she has planned their entire lives already, but having to start with their first date, realises she needs to be more than herself; fun, but sexy and effortless, a cool girl, being herself but a much more downplayed version. Seems simple enough, right? Like so many others, Monique can fall pretty easily, despite being not so good with guys and talking about that kind of thing and was driven into this position when her best friend Lauren did the absolute unthinkable; she got herself a boyfriend and now Monique doesn’t have anything to do. She’s tried being herself, complete with her rather overactive imagination and the ‘voice of reason’ in her head that is affectionately dubbed ‘British Mon’ (You mean your inner voice isn’t British too?), and it doesn’t seem to work, both in relationships and friendships. She calls herself, the ‘filler girl’; the person you go to between friendships and relationships, or the place filler that is fun in small doses, but eventually doubts their place in anyone’s lives.
I will say right off the bat here – I have never, ever in my life felt so connected with a character before than I have with Monique There were far too many points throughout the show that I had to pause [literally when taking my notes] and thing, holy hell, this is actually me. The awkwardness in certain situations, feeling the need to hide or dampen the quirks that you might be comfortable with, but the outside world might think is enough to give you a one way ticket to the straight jacket. Being unsure of whether you actually have a place in the lives of the people who are important to you, and that crippling self-doubt over so many aspects of your life, especially when things don’t end up the way you always thought they would. It was both confronting in a way and both comforting to be so incredible seen and to know that you’re not the only one who feels that way.
The writing for Friends of Mine is truly spectacular, and Kim McCreanor truly has an incredible, beautiful gift. The humour is relatable on so many levels, being sharp without being forced at all, with nods to pop culture and references that are just subtle enough to get well deserved laughter from the audience, as well as sympathy and a feeling of almost comradery in a way that feels like you’re not alone. I truly hope Kim knows just how incredible this piece truly is.
With a beyond brilliant script, the delivery of it is what truly shines in this phenomenal show. Monique Mair is criminally perfect in this role. The line delivery, her comedic timing and the overall essence of both the character and her portrayal brought it all to life so beautifully. Just the right amount of quirkiness, self-deprecation and relatability that makes the character one that I think I’d love to hang out with. A huge shout out to Meg Clohessy, who provided some wonderful comic relief and assistance throughout the show as her various side characters. The ‘Italian’ Gondolier was a personal favourite.
I could spend an infinite amount of time detailing about how every part of this show was just so incredibly spot on, but that might bore half of you to death, and spoil the fun for the rest of you. So I will simply say this, Friends of Mine is truly a show to behold. An hour of laughs and painstaking relatability for any of us who have been a little weird and crazy and are struggling and striving to find our place in this crazy weird existence.