Reviewed on Tuesday 9th February 2016
To have your debut play premiere in the West End is quite something, but to also star in it is something else! Since the nineties generations have been growing up with U.S. sitcom Friends; I remember watching episode after episode 'back in the day' on E4. Twelve years since the show aired its last series, Matthew Perry (known to many as Chandler) has written a play which certainly captures the essence of the iconic sitcom.
Entitled The End of Longing, the piece centres around four characters, each of whom are on the verge of forty and yet to settle. It's interesting - The End of Longing has that 'trashy sitcom' feel to it that many of us find irresistible. I know that if I turned on the TV and The End of Longing was on I would find myself shamefully watching it for hours.
Friends fans won't be disappointed; Perry's character Jack reminded me of an older version of Chandler whilst the brilliant Lloyd Owen plays a character named Joseph who Friends fans will immediately compare to Joey. Owen gives the performance of the night; he pitches the comedy perfectly and successfully makes a 'shallowly stupid' character lovable.
Completing the cast are Jennifer Mudge as a prostitute whose career becomes complicated when she falls in love and Christina Cole who is longing to have a baby with the right guy before it's too late. The End of Longing is directed by Lindsay Posner who previously worked with Perry on the 2003 West End production of Sexual Perversity in Chicago. Posner's production is pretty slick whilst Anna Fleischle's design is simple yet neat.
It took me a while to get into the piece; Perry's writing takes a little time to find its feet, but considering there have been no out-of-town tryouts the play flows well. The second act is stronger than the first; whilst there are laughs throughout, a couple of darker themes are interwoven into the story which pave way for a genuinely touching monologue from Perry at the end of the night.
Recently I have spent some evenings at the theatre seeing plays which have taken me days upon days to fully digest... whereas The End of Longing couldn't be more different. It is easy to watch and whilst I didn't leave the theatre deeply dissecting what I had just seen, I walked home with a smile on my face, feeling a little bit better about my own life - I found it refreshing. Some people simply are not going to get The End of Longing whilst others will enjoy seeing a different genre and style of comedy being reflected on a West End stage.Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
The End of Longing runs at the Playhouse Theatre until 14th May 2016.
Please visit www.EndofLonging.co.uk for further information and tickets.
Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks