Carrie Keranen and Todd D'Amour in
What To Do When You Hate All Your Friends
(© Martin R. Miller)
Carrie Keranen and Todd D'Amour in
What To Do When You Hate All Your Friends
(© Martin R. Miller)
Larry Kunofsky's mildly amusing comedy, What To Do When You Hate All Your Friends, currently playing the Lion Theater, gives new meaning to the well-worn cliché, "With friends like these, who needs enemies?" Unfortunately, it goes on a little too long to sustain its premise.

As the show begins, the handsome but antisocial Matt (Todd D'Amour) declares that he has no friends -- or if he does have friends, he hates them. He meets the attractive and charming Celia (Carrie Keranen) at a café, who invites him to a party. They seem to hit it off, but just when he's ready to declare that he wants the two of them to be together, she counters by saying she wants them to be Friends. And yes, that's with a capital "F."

Celia is a member of "The Friends," a secret society that has "perfected" friendship through rules and a ranking system. They give and take away "Points" from each other, hold secret hot tub parties, and always seem to be having more fun in "the other room" than their lowercase friends like Enid (Amy Staats). Matt initially finds comfort and camaraderie within the group, but inevitably things take a turn for the worse.

Kunofsky includes some wacky situations, such as Celia's rather unusual sexual habits, and Matt's near inability to touch another person without completely freaking out. The breezy dialogue contains plenty of humor, and the show presents a gently satirical take on friendship and romance. Still, the playwright doesn't have anything particularly insightful to say, and the work's numerous fourth wall-breaking speeches grate on the nerves after a while.

D'Amour has a sexy, understated presence that makes it easy to understand why Matt is well-liked, even if Matt himself doesn't like anyone else. Keranen infuses Celia with a fragility and emotional neediness that belies her outward confidence. Staats is quite funny as the insecure Enid. Susan Louise O'Connor entertains in a multitude of roles, each distinctly different from one another, while Josh Lefkowitz has a harder time with his multiple characters, tending to overplay their surface qualities.

Director Jacob Krueger mostly keeps the pace of the play at a light clip, but there are still moments that drag. This might be solved by some judicious trimming -- starting with the 15-minute intermission that breaks up the production's less than two hour running time.