Am I Good Friend?
Yve Blake @ Bull & Bear Bar and Restaurant
3:30pm, Fri 9 Mar 2012
I’m concerned as I glance over The Program that is given to me as I hear into the rear room of the Bull & Bear; the photos contained therein seem symptomatic of a mind that’s obsessed with internet meme images. Especially cats. There’s ten cat pictures. Watermelon-head cat? Yep. Sniper kitten? He’s there too.
Now, I hate cats. Okay, it’s not so much “hate” as it is “extreme resentment”. Because those little fuckers get to look cute and cuddly and then when you sleep they eat your pizza and when you yell at them they look all cute and cuddly and you can’t yell at them anymore and it’s not fair.
The room’s pretty chockers, and – given this is the first of three performances of Am I Good Friend? – I’m thinking it’s a family-and-friends affair… a thought that is solidified when Yves Blake takes to the stage (well, the little semi-circle of space at the focal point of this makeshift theatre) to raucous applause. And if there’s one thing I want to remember about Yve, it’s that she is enthusiastic.
Armed with PowerPoint presentations and previously-assembled movies, she describes – in comic detail – how she is going to scientifically determine whether she is a “good friend” to people. To argue her position, she presents statistics (Facebook Friends vs Real-World Friends), shows interviews with random strangers who espouse their Friend Judging Requirements, and tracks down long-lost friends (or even just Facebook de-frienders) to ask them what she could have done better.
Whilst her multimedia content is very much from the technology-wielding Generation Y outlook – and hence came across a little childish to an old fogie like me – there’s an interesting thread to the show that has a bit of heart to it. The persistent multimedia got a little wearing after a while, but Blake changes it up with bits of audience interaction; we were all asked to contributed the name of a former Friend for her dataset, and there’s an oddly sweet bit where she gets a punter to confess her Friending sins for her.
It has to be said: Blake is a dynamo of a performer. Her writing shows a wonderful self-assuredness (the text of The Program is madcap fun), and her delivery is oddly engaging: she had great pitch variation in her voice, and a weird habit of leaning into audience members when addressing them… intimate, and maybe just a little bit creepy. In a kooky way. Getting the tassels out at the end was odd, too.
And then, after she’s guided us to a feel-good ending (we all got our “golden truth egg” that assured us that yes, we can be good friend), she thanks us for attending; this show is a big risk, she tells us, especially since she’s only eighteen years old.
And then content of the show, and all the little notes I’d made that said “YOUNG” in uppercase, underlined several times, made sense.
Am I Good Friend? was guilty good fun. It left me with a smile on my face, and I’m smiling thinking about it now (ten months later), and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what Yve Blake does in the future.