You can find part one here.
My second show turned out to be an educational gem. Written by Gregory Crafts, managing director of Theatre Unleashed, Friends Like These is a masterpiece that springs from real life events - the current epidemic of school shootings.
As a company, Theatre Unleashed has been one of the most prolific contributors to the success of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Their shows are always well produced, well cast and wonderfully performed, and they do not shy away from the controversy when necessary. Friends Like These is all of those and more.
First off, the cast is amazing, with Scott Sharma as Garrett, Sammi Lappin as Diz, Sean Casey Flanagan as Bryan, Parissa Koo as Nicole and Lee Pollero as Jesse. They are totally believable as 17 year old high school students, and infuse them with the skills and experience to voice their concerns and story in a way that is understandable to their audience.
School shootings have become too much of a current problem. Friends Like These is the first play I have seen that goes to the root of the situation to help the audience understand what these kids are dealing with on an ongoing basis. It is so easy to romanticize our high school years, and forget the pain of heartbreak, bullying and teasing that goes on there. It is also easy to forget that teenagers don't have the coping skills or impulse control that most adults possess.
Friends Like These is a wake-up call to parents and students alike. It reminds us that there are consequences to our actions, and that a smoldering fire left alone long enough will at some point burst into flame, destroying itself and damaging those around it. We as adults need to be cognizant of the warning signs. Teenagers need to be reminded that high school is not the "best years of their life" - it does get better if they can just hold on and get through it.
Friends Like These is a MUST SEE production that could very well save your life or the life of your kids. It is timely and relevant, and so very much appreciated. Thank you Theatre Unleashed and Gregory Crafts for bringing this amazing work to the Fringe - you may have provided the cure to a problem that affects far too many of us.
Remaining performances are June 22 at 4:30 p.m., June 24 at 9 p.m. and June 28 at 10:30 p.m. Make your reservations today and don't miss this show!