The ‘End Of Longing’ is written by and stars Matthew Perry. This isn’t his first writing credit but it is his West End debut as a writer. The play is a funny and moving exploration of the everyday lives of four friends, who after a drunken night out realise what they want from life and ultimately pursue it.
Some have claimed that there are too many similarities between ‘End of Longing’ and ‘Friends’. In reality, the only similarity I could see was that some of the characters are actually friends. Hardly a damning indictment. Yet, if you go in the determination that Perry has recreated the hit sitcom, you’ll inevitably be disappointed or find a way to convince yourself he has.
What sets it apart from the sitcom is this is not just a collection of one liners being set up and delivered, there is some genuinely well thought out comedy of substance here.
In the role of ‘Jack’, Matthew Perry skillfully takes us on the journey of an alcoholic, his every movement and his every slurred word helps to hit home the real destructive personality of the character.
Lloyd Owen is ‘Joseph’, portrayed from the outset as being stupid, yet neither the script nor the performance really follows this through. Instead, he comes across as an impossibly nice guy who is, at most, a bit naive. Owen does, however, manage to get some of the best laughs of the night.
‘Stevie’ is played by Christina Cole and is a wonderfully complex character that Cole just grasps by the neck and runs with. Her neurotic nature is underpinned by the sterling performance from Christina Cole.
Jennifer Mudge makes the role of ‘Stephanie’ her own, she shows us how love can overcome pain and hurt. This character could easily have been viewed with mild distaste, yet Jennifer Mudge makes us sympathise endlessly with Stephanie.
Each of the characters get lengthy monologues straight to the audience, they are all impressive and bring something important to the play. The monologues from Matthew Perry and Lloyd Owen, however, are particularly moving and therefore resonate the most.
The staging is modern and expertly executed, I was left wondering at some points how the cast had managed to change and move between scenes in what seemed like an impossibly short space of time.
‘The End of Longing’ is a must-see while it’s in London, and if you stop looking at the play as ‘The One With Chandler’ you’ll start to see it for the incredibly funny, moving and beautiful piece of theatre that it actually is. Tickets are available here.