FRIENDS: THE MUSICAL PARODY, a spoof of the popular ’90s sitcom, apparently contains a scene that can best be described as racist. So kudos to New England Theatre Geek reviewer Craig Idlebrook who went to see the show in Lowell, Massachusetts, called out the show for “one of the most racist moments I’ve seen on stage in decades”, and walked out during intermission.
I would normally excerpt the part of his review where he talks about the racist moment, but Idlebrook decided to only write a three-paragraph review of the show and all he writes about is the racist moment so here it is in full:
Look, I could write a couple of paragraphs to discuss the many shortcomings and few bright points about this musical parody of an insanely popular 90’s sitcom, but none of that matters. The production I saw of this play should be condemned for allowing one of the most racist moments I’ve seen on stage in decades.
Early in the play, the character of Ross is on a paleontology trip to China. To illustrate this with a minimal set change, they have him wear an Asian conical hat. We next see some kind of an assistant behind Ross also wearing an Asian conical hat. That assistant smiles broadly, folds his hands into his sleeves, and walks backwards in a quick shuffle, all while bowing slightly. It is a perfect example of a racist depiction of an Asian underling, the kind of grotesque caricature you expect from a mid-20th century Bugs Bunny cartoon, not a 21st century theatrical production.
I walked out at intermission. Maybe the play got better in the second act, but it certainly couldn’t have done anything to redeem itself.
And that’s how you do it, ladies and gentlemen.