The End of Longing by Matthew Perry (2016) – A Theatre Review

Let’s talk Friends (USA 1994-2004). Friends was a successful TV show that launched the careers of many of the actors and actresses involved – though it still surprises me to see Courteney Cox in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (d. Tom Shadyac USA 1994). Friends was such a huge hit that if you aren’t hearing about the actors involved you’d start to wonder what happened to them and where did they go? Though many still act and for David Schwimmer – direct, Matthew Perry has pursued writing. The End of Longing is his stage debut and he also stars in his work being brought to the stage by Lindsay Posner. Now as much as the actors will likely be trying to pursue a strong career beyond Friends, Friends was a huge TV comedy that was loved by many and the actors are remembered fondly for their performances in the show. People even make comparisons between themselves and the characters. So a question for many would be how does The End of Longing go beyond Friends and become it’s own entity and how is it similar to Friends?

I don’t want to dwell on this too much as The End of Longing isn’t Friends. Whereas Friends was a bit more family orientated despite some adult themes to do with relationships it was easily accessible to most audiences. The End of Longing goes further than these adult themes and deals with some very real life difficulties in a very real way that can be a bit dark at times. Despite this the similarity to friends seems to come from the sense of humour and the use of locations. Friends at times was very theatrical with the locations being a bit of a backdrop. This can be quite true of many TV Shows but in this sense the locations, despite a stunning layout by stage designer Anna Fleischle, are atmospherical and theatrical too. Sometimes the mind has to fill in the gaps where perhaps a TV would show a little more also in life you’d see more people and props. In The End of Longing this becomes more theatrical as we see more of a focus visually on the central characters, this would be the case with Friends anyway but people would be there for atmosphere, here, they’re not. Comedy is darker and more adult at times but is in a similar style to Friends. It is safe to say that if you grew up with Friends or found Friends funny, you’d find The End of Longing funny too.

Taking The End of Longing on it’s own merits we see a cohesive story that quickly, through it’s theatricality, takes you into the characters, the world and their story. Act 1 is very enjoyable and propels you through it’s story with ease. Act 2 we see a bit more hopefully redemption for it’s characters, there is a hope for them, which feels cheesy at times. This being said I don’t think there is any other way that the story could have gone in Act 2, if we kept with the dark comedy of the characters there would be no change and it’d be against the themes of the play. Commentary on relationships and addictions, as well as happiness and it’s very nature are prevalent throughout. These themes reach a more natural conclusion with Act 2 and wraps the story up in hopes, this makes Act 2 not as strong but more emotionally personal than Act 1. The comedy, as mentioned before, can be quite dark and it is delivered with a certain sarcasm and cynicism by the cast. The characters are quite distinct but relatable and it’s interesting how the performances captivate you despite being quite far from many audience members at times.

All in all this was a very strong play and one that was delivered by a strong cast as it can be difficult at times to keep with the themes and characters to keep the audience. The comedy being a bit more dark and adult than something like Friends but keeps with you and surprises you with just how funny it can be. Very hopeful in spite of everything and doesn’t come to the strongest resolutions but the best resolutions for the play. It was well worth seeing and is a very strong comedy play to be out there at the moment.

The End of Longing follows the lives of an alcoholic, an idiot, a prostitute and a neurotic. Their will to live and love pushes them to face their flaws.

Further Reading

Official Site

Playhouse Theatre

The Guardian Review

Time Out Review

Interview with Jennifer Mudge

Interview with Matthew Perry

Some Chandler Bing Moments

Friends Hug

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