Eight-year old Juliet is often home alone, overlooked by her negligent mother and surly older sister. It’s fortunate then, that she has her imaginary friend Rocky to keep her company. Or is it? In a tale of childhood, adolescent and parental woes, as well as a dose of demonic possession, Imaginary Friend: A New Musical is dark, sympathetic, and irresistible.
Jaimi Reese plays Juliet and Leah’s mom, who struggles to keep her house and family afloat. She suspects her daughters hate her, but she is genuinely trying her best. Kendra Humphrey plays the sweet Juliet who embodies an eight year old perfectly; her mannerisms, movements, and voice are exaggerated, but not so much that she is a caricature. Bella King’s Leah hides her insecurities and frustrations behind her bedroom door; she works hard to maintain a relationship with her girlfriend, though her adult responsibilities are weighing on her. Matthew Lindholm plays the flamboyant Rocky, who thrives on the family’s chaos and instigates Juliet’s descent into darkness. The women shine in this story, and they are easy to root for when the stakes are high. Lindholm creates a character so delightfully and hilariously evil, it is a thrill to watch him stir the pot throughout the story.
At its heart, this show seems to be about female longing and the different ways that longing is hampered by modern patriarchal society. Not only is it relatable and sad, but it is wickedly funny as well, with humour that is acerbic and just the right level of naughty. In addition, the songs in this show are clever and memorable, adding laughs and sparkle to this dark tale.
Imaginary Friend: A New Musical has heart and humour, and it is a must-see at this year’s festival.