Pros: A versatile cast, clever props and a well-rounded piece that delivers lots of humour alongside the take-home message. The cast and crew should be proud.
Loneliness is a hot topic that can leave you out in the cold. We’ve known for decades that it affects the elderly, but the media has only discussed loneliness in millennials and upwards in the last few years. Carrie, the protagonist of When the Friendship Has Sailed, has a goldfish to talk to (bought by her nan) and a best friend at the other end of the country. She doesn’t have real friends in London, but it takes a doctor asking for an emergency contact number to bring things into perspective.
Like anyone who has dealt with loneliness in adulthood, Carrie feels everyone else is totally sorted and stable, whilst she’s the anomaly, left to try out hobbies to find a sense of purpose (cue brilliant cardboard props and cheeky voice-overs). A backdrop of a giant goldfish bowl, and Carrie’s job as a swimming teacher, add to the watery metaphors: Carrie is basically treading water, but may eventually sink if she doesn’t reach out. To be honest, I’d enjoy being her friend, if only for the constant jokes and innuendo.
When the Friendship Has Sailed was developed with support from the Soho Theatre Young Company by Australian writer Jessica Palfrey, who also performs here as Serena, Carrie’s health influencer colleague, and Sally, her accidental yoga pal. Palfrey multi-tasks further as designer and producer for the show, whilst Natalie Ann Jamieson, playing the loveable Carrie, is also marketing manager. Elizabeth Edmonds is the final cast member and, whilst all three actors are flawless, it’s Edmonds who gets the most laughs. She is the best and only singing goldfish I’ve ever seen, taking to Louis Peake’s compositions like, erm, a fish to water.
As someone who has dealt with loneliness, I left this play a bit leaky-eyed, but ultimately upbeat. The warm and fuzzy feelings delivered by When the Friendship Has Sailed are priceless, and the company also raises awareness of a local Edinburgh charity helping over-60s with loneliness, so there’s a real multi-generational message behind the drama. None of us should be alone or living in a metaphorical goldfish bowl.
Author: Jessica Palfrey
Director: Edwina Strobl
Composer and Lyricist: Louis Peake
Producer: Flugelman Productions
Box Office: 0131 581 5555
Booking Link: http://www.cthefestival.com/2018/when-the-friendship-has-sailed
Booking Until: 27 August 2018