What’s it all about?
The One with the alcoholic, the hooker, the neurotic and the simpleton.
Let’s get it out of the way, Friends this is not. Its main draw may well be its playwright and star Matthew Perry, and yes Chandler’s mastery of sarcasm is a major component of The End Of Longing, but the four pals in question here are brasher, their philosophies more world weary and their comebacks meaner.
Short snappy scenes and zinging one-liners give this rom com a sitcom feel that fans of Perry will delight in, while a series of intimate monologues coat the evening with just a touch of pathos.
Who’s in it?
With a cheer and a – unauthorised – camera flash as the curtain came up, and a standing ovation for one key cast member as the curtain fell, last night’s gala proved – if we didn’t already know – this is the Matthew Perry show. And the good news is he’s good. Bringing his sharp witted delivery and bone dry humour to the stage, he’s as droll as you could possibly wish for.
As booze hound Jack, Perry is a frenetic, wide eyed, talking-a-million-miles-a-minute rogue, pausing only for those all-important monologues that, with Perry’s much documented real-life substance struggles, feel intimate and inescapably blur the lines of fiction and reality.
Fellow American Jennifer Mudge more than holds her own as Jack’s match, a sassy and fiery intelligent prostitute about to have her life turned upside down by love, while Christina Cole is amusingly irritating as her eternally anxious friend Stevie. With all this dysfunction flying around, it’s left to an endearing Lloyd Owen to play the innocent in a group of battered cynics.
What should I look out for?
Some less than hopeful feelings about hitting your 40s if you’re not there yet. In Perry’s, admittedly very glossy, world – the women always wear four inch heels and Anna Fleische’s set is full on LA chic – life doesn’t get much easier when you’re ‘grown up’.
Lloyd’s wonderful delivery of simple Joseph’s musings on hot towels. A moment of observational genius.
Who was in the press night crowd?
As you’d expect, the gala was packed with an eclectic mix of celebrity spots including Amanda Abbington, Ricky Wilson, Nathan Amzi, Sadie Frost, Lindsay Lohan and Nigel Lindsay.
In a nutshell?
Snappy one-liners, slick staging and laugh out loud performances, Matthew Perry’s playwriting debut brings a loveably dysfunctional grown up sitcom to the stage.
What’s being said on Twitter?
Really enjoyed 'The end of Longing' by @MatthewPerry. A very well written, thought provoking piece. Highly recommended. ❤️ Matthew Perry— Rachel Reed (@rachelreedwifey) February 6, 2016
Will I like it?
Fast paced, slick and packed with pithy one-liners that zing out of Perry’s surprisingly sentimental script, what The End Of Longing loses in depth it makes up for in entertainment. And if you like your stories neatly tied up in a bow and pleasantly resolved, this one is for you.