The End of Longing

Previewed 2 February 2016, Opened 11 February 2016, Closed 14 May 2016 at the Playhouse Theatre in London

The World Premiere of Matthew Perry's debut play The End of Longing in London starring Matthew Perry and directed by Lindsay Posner.

Entering their forties and searching for meaning, Jack, Stephanie, Joseph and Stevie meet up for a raucous night out together in a LA bar - but then their lives become irreversibly entwined in a rollercoaster journey that forces them to confront the darker sides of their relationships together. A sharply written and hilarious dark comedy that promises to make you realise that broken people don't need to stay broken.

The cast features Matthew Perry as 'Jack' along with Christina Cole as 'Stevie', Jennifer Mudge as 'Stephanie' and Lloyd Owen as 'Joseph'. Directed by Lindsay Posner with designs by Anna Fleischle. Matthew Perry is best known for playing 'Chandler Bing' on the hit television sitcom Friends. His West End theatre credits include Lindsay Posner's revival of David Mamet's Sexual Perversity In Chicago (Harold Pinter Theatre 2003). Lloyd Owen's London theatre credits includes David Lindsay-Abaire's play Good People (Hampstead Theatre 2014 and Noel Coward Theatre 2014) and the role of 'Frank Farmer' in the original cast of the musical The Bodyguard (Adelphi Theatre 2012).

When this production opeend here at the Playhouse Theatre in February 2016, Henry Hitchings in The London Evening Standard noted that "the fact that Matthew Perry takes the lead in his grandly titled debut play makes it sound like a dubious vanity project. But this is actually a heartfelt, solidly acted look at fear and addiction — uneven yet undeniably dark... Perry’s writing can be clichéd. Yet its misanthropic zinginess sometimes calls to mind David Mamet’s caustic early plays." Ann Treneman in The Times admitted that "the snobs won't like this play which is, at times, a sort of extended episode of Friends with swearing and sex. But it is much darker, indeed eclipse of the Sun at points, taking us where the TV sitcom could never go. It is funny, consistently and often laugh out loud. Given that it is roughly two hours, that's an achievement... The set by Anna Fleischle, with its flashy moving cityscape backdrop, works brilliantly. Lindsay Posner directs, balancing the light and dark humour well, although I thought the ending let us all down." Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph commented that Matthew Perry's "devotees might make this a hit but there's little disguising the fact that it is essentially a dud... is a promising first effort but, even aided by his presence, it lacks the dramatic merit to make the exposing leap to the West End stage?" Ian Shuttleworth The Financial Times thought that "at root the only message is 'people can change', and it's neither deeply nor originally expressed." Holly Williams in The Independent explained: "Let's have no snobbishness about this, please: casting that gets a new audience into the theatre is great. It's just a shame they're seeing this play. It is a woeful attempt at a dark-but-redemptive romcom, drawing on Matthew Perry's own experiences of addiction... Perry is a big box-office draw, but The End of Longing will leave all except the most devoted Friends fans longing for the end." Neil Norman in The Daily Express highlighted that the "characters are right off the stockroom shelf and the script is riddled with cliché but the dialogue has zip and the performances are so good I found myself warming to it... There is nothing too original here but it's a nice ensemble piece and Matthew Perry's lack of vanity allows him to look the jowly, puddingy alcoholic he once was." Quentin Letts in The Daily Mail observed that "while the play could never be described as particularly profound or poetical, Lindsay Posner’s production is coolly staged, well acted and thoroughly watchable. I enjoyed it, though fully expect to forget much of it within a week or so." Michael Billington in The Guardian wrote that "Lindsay Posner directs with his customary efficiency and, although the design makes no great demands on Anna Fleischle, she creates a chic urban playground. But, while the play clearly aims to deal with four loners struggling to come to terms with early middle-age, it feels more like an extended sitcom in which there is little going on behind the lines."

"The One with the Dud Play. Matthew 'Chandler' Perry ducks a mooted Friends reunion to make his playwrighting debut, a frisky comedy that lurches into exhortations about the will to change. It opens with four characters — a drunk, a prostitute, a worrywart and a dimwit — each confidently asserting that they see no reason to amend their lives. Wanna hazard a guess as to how this will play out?... They all argue flippantly, then mawkishly, and Lindsay Posner directs at a stupefying bellow. Even vulnerability emerges at full volume, and Perry barks his lines as if ordering at a foreign restaurant." The Sunday Times

"With its quartet of unappealing characters, bar-room and bedroom settings, staccato rhythms and expletive-filled exchanges, the play has much in common with David Mamet's Sexual Perversity In Chicago in which Perry appeared here 12 years ago. The comparison does not work to its advantage. The characters are sketchy and their relationships predictable but Perry papers over the cracks with some sharp wisecracks that the cast delivers with aplomb under Lindsay Posner's slick direction. Nevertheless, one tires of dialogue that rarely aims above groin level." The Sunday Express

"If like me, you're a big fan of Matthew Perry, that is reason enough to see this play. Not because he wrote it, but because he stars in it. Perry plays Jack, an alcoholic who, with his few grey hairs and a slight paunch, could be Chandler Bing 11 years after the final episode of Friends. Like Chandler, Jack is quick-witted, urbane and does that brilliantly funny, deadpan stare at people who say something stupid. Perry has written in a friend called Joseph who - surely no coincidence - is as stupid as Chandler's friend Joey. So Perry's Jack gets to do that Chandler shtick a lot. It's a bit more of a stretch to link the women to Friends. Neurotic Stevie works for a drugs company (Phoebe?) and her friend Stephanie is a high-class prostitute (surely not Monica!). All four are looking for love except Joseph, who thinks Magna Carta means a big cart. Can Jack and Stephanie find love? Do we care? Not much. Perry's dialogue can be as sharp as an episode of Friends. But apart from Jack's confessional speech at his first AA meeting, a moment that feels as if the trembling Perry is writing and acting from the heart, every attempt to reach for the profound feels cliched and contrived. Lindsay Posner's LA-set production is as slick as a Jack/Chandler one-liner. But go for Perry, not the play." The London Metro

"Now a recovering alcoholic, in his nicely titled, admirably honest debut play Matthew Perry is rather good as Jack, a dishevelled drunk, a ‘slightly exaggerated version’ of himself. This is a show, though, for friends of Friends. For really good friends, who won’t be offended by very unFriendly, grubby, lads-mag jokes and heaving expletives; and for undemanding, indiscriminating friends of Friends so blinded by seeing 'Chandler' in the flesh they won't notice writing less polished and more pat than the real thing, or the litter of forced gags... Confident performances and Anna Fleischle's slickly sliding sets give an unearned fluency to the clunky, cliché-ridden writing." The Mail on Sunday

The End of Longing in London at the Playhouse Theatre previewed from 2 February 2016, opened on 11 February and closed on 14 May 2016.