Friends Like These Mixes Great Performances with Flawed Script

By John Farrell

Friends Like These is writer Gregory Crafts’ visceral look at one group of students at a local high school who you know are doomed from the start.

The play begins with reports of a mass shooting at the high school and the only question is “Who does the shooting?”

In this Theatre Unleashed production, directed by Wendy Gough Soroka, that is one problem. The other problem is the complete lack of parents in the mix. Scott Sharma plays Garrett. He is bullied to the point of spending a couple of weeks unconscious in the hospital with a broken jaw and no one, save his friends, seems to notice.

That is a shame because, despite these logical flaws, the five cast members give riveting and real performances as students troubled and trying to work out their lives. You think about the flaws after the play: during the performance you are focused on Garrett, on his girlfriend Nicole (Parissa Koo), Diz (Sammi Lapin), Bryan (Sean Casey Flanagan) and Jesse (Le Pollero). Diz has lost Garrett to cheerleader Nicole and is devastated at her loss. Jesse is a jock with attitude and his former girl-friend Nicole has left him for Garrett. Bryan is Garrett’s friend and Jesse’s wrestling partner. The story, about high school angst and emotional problems, rings true if you don’t think things through. But the actors give great performances and it is only later that you begin to wonder.

Tickets are $12.50

Performances are Monday June 22 at 4:30 p.m.Wednesday, June 24 at 9 p.m. and Saturday June 28 at 10:30 p.m.

Venue: Theatre Asylum @ The Elephant Space
Location: 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles
Details: (323) 455-4585www.theatreunleashed.com

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