Poignant and provocative play by Gregory Crafts. I first saw Friends Like These in December of 2013 at CSUF and was amazed how he was able to catch teenage angst so well. It was the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting and the day before, there had been a high school shooting in Colorado. Fast forward to June 7, 2014 with all the latest news about high school and the UCSB and Seattle Pacific college shootings and stabbings; this play couldn’t be more relevant.
I recommend seeing Friends Like These to everyone, especially to parents and their teenagers to open up a dialogue about the hot button topic of bullying or being different. I think just about every teenager has been picked on for one reason or another and adults need to be aware of the fragility of their mindset. From the play, I could pick out the characters that were in my own children’s schools or even my past but when I was growing up, no one brought guns to school. I can’t help thinking that this play should be touring the country, bringing awareness to communities, both urban and rural.
Scott Sharma (Garrett) and Sean Casey Flanagan (Bryan), the youngest members of the Hollywood Fringe Festival cast, were amazing, as were the more seasoned veterans, Sammi Lappin (Diz), Parissa Koo (Nicole), and Lee Pollero (Jesse). I especially enjoyed the interaction between Garrett, Bryan, and Diz, laughed during the Haven scenes, and cried at the end, even though I already knew the outcome. Friends Like These was an sagacious, emotional journey worth taking again. We had a fantastic time and loved being a part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.