Old Friends, Livestreamed Performance – Review

Reminiscing about past loves is commonplace, but what about the friendships of our halcyon days? Taking inspiration from ‘sleepovers’ in her childhood, Tamara Micner has created a Zoom show that encourages its audience to remember their inner child and recall why the intense platonic friendships of the past have fallen by the wayside.

Partly interactive in nature, Old Friends oscillates between Micner’s candid memories regarding her (former) best friend and inviting the online audience at specific junctures to take part in activities, including sharing thoughts and anecdotes about their personal history.

We glean from the show that Micner grew up in Vancouver, Canada and that ‘slumber parties’ were a regular occurence growing up. Ro was her best friend during her pre-teen years, but over time lost contact. One thing they do share is having a common Jewish heritage, but even at Ro’s bat mitzvah, the differences between them begin to show – especially with regards to Ro’s confidence in knowing the songs and scripture required for the occasion, and her general poise.

The following years, the girls aren’t always able to spend time together, but when they do and ‘find their groove’, they are inseperable. It is, however, when Ro moves to London to join Micner that their friendship becomes ‘complicated’. Mindful of spending quality time with both her new boyfriend and her best friend, Micner asks both of them to move in with her. But little tell-tale signs show all is not as harmonious as things could be and when Ro finds herself a boyfriend, the couple move into their own separate apartment…

Through the moments of self-revelation, Micner obliquely poses numerous questions to the audience. Is it realistic to expect to remain ‘best friends’ forever? In romantic relationships, the wants, needs and circumstances of the respective partners changes over time. Shouldn’t the nature of friendships evolve too? Micner’s anecdote about watching Ro’s wedding online during lockdown – taking place within the same city, but watching from a physical and emotional ‘distance’ – describes on so many levels how knowing someone ‘once upon a time’ and the motions of ‘being present’ don’t necessarily equate to a genuine, lasting bond.

In-between the serious insights Micner has, games with the audience are encouraged, from ‘Truth or Dare’, pillow fights, ‘midnight snacks’, and ‘Never Have I Ever…’ As mentioned earlier, the thoughts and anecdotes of the online audience are a distinctive part of the show. Rather than something that is a supplemental or inconsequential feature of Old Friends, the comments show how perceptive the audience are, and how their ‘friendship expectations’ and life experience varies from person to person.

As the show takes its title from the eponymous Simon & Garfunkel song, it’s only fitting that their music features throughout the performance. We also learn the history of Micner’s relationship with their music. It is the show’s coda however, where Simon & Garfunkel’s 1981 reunion concert is discussed that we realise how their personal and professional relationship mirrors Micner’s thoughts on close friendships. For some ‘attachments’, perhaps there is an ‘expiry date’ and it’s time to move on. Or perhaps the key to ‘happy friendships’ is to keep expectations to a minimum and enjoy them moment to moment.

© Michael Davis 2022

Old Friends was broadcast online on 30th and 31st March.

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