"Friendship; easier made than kept"
by Avril Silk for remotegoat on 21/06/19

Friendships can be our most satisfactory, rewarding and resilient relationships. They often begin with shared ideas or the pleasure of exploring differing opinions. Sooner or later, however, most friendships meet more uncomfortable hurdles. What do you do if you think your friend is embarking on a disastrous relationship? If you tell them so, you risk losing the friendship - if you don't tell them so, you feel implicated if, as you fear, the inevitable happens and the relationship crashes and burns. Many of us resolve this by trying to accept the new partner and muddle along - hoping that somehow the relationship will flourish and all will be ok, or we resign ourselves to preparing to be there for our friend if it doesn't. We treat other sticking points in a similar way. The fine art of muddling along. But there are tipping points. And one of the most painful places in any relationship is arriving at a tipping point. Something that makes you want to walk away from the friendship. Maybe for a short time; maybe forever.

Pondering friendship in this way is the result of watching Cygnet Theatre’s excellent performance of Mike Bartlett’s terrific (new to me) play, 'An Intervention'. The friends in question, excellently played by Oliver Heaton and Edward Watterson, have enjoyed their altercations but the pressure of other events - an imminent, devastating war and a new relationship for character B, divide them irrevocably and the friendship is rocked to its foundations. Mix in alcohol misuse and sadness rooted in childhood on the part of character A, helplessly watching his friend hitch up with a woman he considers destructive, and you have reached the tipping point. I was completely engrossed in the predicament. The blistering banter, the irritation, the disappointment, the shreds of hope, the shards of anger – all familiar territory.

The sparse setting, the excellent music and well-chosen costumes allowed us to focus on the humour and the pain as the friends navigated the white water rapids on what had previously been a pleasantly meandering river. Oliver and Edward’s natural delivery, punctuated with entirely appropriate expletives and understandable eye rolls, intimately involved the audience in their story. I actually spoke my response out loud at one point. (I tried to turn it into a cough.) Who was being patronising? Who was being disloyal? Who was being honest? What are the choices when friendship is tested to the limit?

I won't reveal the shocking ending, except to say I actually thought my heart would stop on several occasions, but I will say that the addition of an unscheduled nosebleed was not only horrifyingly dramatic but also gave the actors an additional chance to demonstrate consummate professionalism as they coped with it magnificently.

I wish there had been a larger audience for this excellent, passionate production by director Alistair Ganley. There is another chance to catch the play on Saturday, June 22nd. Do go if you possibly can.

Other recent reviews by Avril Silk
Clarke Andrews Tempest
Say goodbye to rough magic by Avril Silk
Educating Rita
An irresistible passion for learning by Avril Silk
Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)
The Way To Do It by Avril Silk
Boston Marriage
A complex, difficult, interesting play by Avril Silk
As You Like It
A play of timeless conundrums by Avril Silk