The End of Longing: Theatre Review

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I love Friends, so it is no surprise to anyone that I had to check of The End of Longing and support Chandler Bing, ahem, Matthew Perry in his first time acting and writing for London’s West End. The reviews have been mixed to say the least and friends who have seen weren’t too convinced but I really enjoyed it and I recommend you check it out.

Perry plays Jack, an alcoholic who befriends a hooker Stephanie (Jennifer Mudge), who is best friends with neurotic, self-medicating Stevie (Christina Cole), who is dating Jack’s dumb best friend Joseph (Lloyd Owen).

The play basically just follows their relationships and it is pretty simple to follow. This won’t please the theatre darlings who will find it too shallow, superficial and thinly written, but as a regular person who loves the simple enjoyment of Friends, I loved this. It is funny and the relationships between the characters (especially Stevie and Joseph) are great. After watching two recent plays that required intense concentration and left me feeling drained afterwards, this is a welcome change.

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Yes, the characters are quite stereotypical and don’t go too far beyond the obvious constraints of their obvious characteristics (except Joseph at the end) and the play is not very deep at all but it is light and fun and I appreciated it. Wait for a scene where Perry drunkily dances and sings – the standout by far.

The three lesser-known actors really impressed me. Cole and Owen had great American accents (Mudge is already American), I could really relate to Cole’s character, who is forever worrying and wanting everything to be perfect, and I liked Owen for making Joseph more than the dumb friend. The acting letdown was Perry – I didn’t feel like he was even acting in the first half. He just hit his mark and delivered his line with the correct intonations – there was no emotion or believability. He was noticeably different in the second half – perhaps because the material got darker and more serious and he had something to bite his teeth into. His speech on alcoholism seemed heartfelt, but as we all know, he is speaking from experience.

The End of Longing is not the travesty I had been expecting. Don’t go if you are expecting something more taxing and thought-provoking. This requires the same brain capacity as Friends and it is similar (there’s a dumb friend called Joey, ahem, Joseph for Christ’s sake!) but definitely darker and more adult (sooo much swearing). Perry has done a decent writing job. Sure, some of the lines didn’t feel right, but I liked the story and the audience laughed out loud a lot. His acting was disappointing but his co-stars made up for him 100%.

The End of Longing runs until 14th May at the Playhouse Theatre

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