A Definitive Ranking of My Closest Friends

Comedy · jay stalder · Ages 17+ · United States of America

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June 20, 2023 certified reviewer

What I liked

The dialogue stood out to me as the strongest element of the show. The writing generally did a great job of depicting the long-established relationships and closeness of the cast.

Absolutely no complaints with the cast, who delivered their roles spectacularly. I want to special kudos to the director, Leanne who had to stand in for one of the actors, memorizing the script entirely and giving a surprisingly natural performance.

What I didn't like

See my overall impressions.

My overall impression

A hilarious and uncomfortable depiction of voyeurism within a realistically, withering friend group that unfortunately could not stick the landing. At least, within the version of the play I got to see.

For 90% of the play, I found the dialogue, character dynamics, and performances super engrossing. The very well-thought-out title delivers the concept perfectly with the friend group feeling both “lived-in” as well as dangerously toxic at the same time. The ambiguity of each character’s true thoughts on the group, the established romances that feel newer to the group, and the discussion around the list itself left a lot of implied history within the group that made the friendship incredibly convincing. The projection of the friend groups’ various experiences before the show especially helped with that illusion as well. For the most part, I appreciated every diegetic element that composed the directing, writing, and acting of this story.

My issue, and where the play greatly disappointed me is a very bold choice made in the finale that shattered the agency of the characters and story that I felt deeply invested in.

It’s a bit difficult to discuss without spoilers so I’ll put the warning here:

Thematically and conceptually I am not against the ending, especially with the actors doing a great job building a joyous tension during the scenes. However, there was a considerable lack of material for the “No” ending given during my showing, which concluded the characters and conflicts in a horribly abrupt and intrusive way. Perhaps my experience may vary on the “choice” that the audience decides on but personally, I felt as if I left the theatre with an incomplete, maybe even an incorrect experience and follow-ups to these characters that I had really grown invested in. Still, I do find the experiment commendable and it did create something unique enough for me to discuss in such detail, negative feelings or not.

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