Deep in the cellars of the Café Voltaire a science experiment is taking place. Yve Blake wants to know what makes a good friend and with the aid of video projection, props and audience participation she embarks on ‘a pie chart filled adventure full of surprises’. Am I Good Friend? - I’m not sure what happened to the ‘A’ in the title; I think it may have hopped out with excitement- is a semi-autobiographical show by Blake, a performance artist from Australia.
If you're the sort of person who considers any time before 5pm during the Fringe to be best spent in a darkened room nursing a monumental hangover than Blake’s brand of lunchtime bubblegum-pink fun will not be for you. There is, however, something refreshing in her sheer naked enthusiasm. Ever since her friend Martha made the mistake in Year Five of naming Ginger Spice as her favourite Spice Girl, Blake has worried about whether she too is secretly a bad friend. Quickly devising an eight-point checklist of what makes a good friend - good friends are inter alia sympathetic, good listeners and give good presents - she bounces about the stage running through her checklist and co-opting members of the audience to test her on her ‘good-friendability’. Also helping her through her checklist is the clever use of video projection, with sketchy cartoon characters acting out moments from her life and video interviews with her friends and family.
The routine lags in the middle as Blake goes through her checklist and there are moments when the audience laughs dry up. This is very much a show where the laughs are caused by the sheer exuberance of Blake’s character rather than any jokes she tells. At times the craziness may start to grate; a running gag about finding the “chicken of mystery” in order to discover the true meaning of being a friend lost me in its zaniness.
Towards the end there was a surprisingly poignant moment as Blake remembered a depressed friend she’d fallen out of contact with. The truth, as Blake ultimately learns, is that no one is a perfect friend. It’s unfortunate that she doesn’t end here but instead tacks on another audience participation section about the chicken of mystery.
Am I Good Friend? is a marshmallow of a show: great fun in the moment, leaving no bitter aftertaste but not something you’ll likely remember two hours afterwards. Still, anyone who can get an entire audience to give a rafters-raising cheer every time they hear the word data must be doing something right.