I used to be a massive fan of Friends but as time has gone on, I’ve sort of got bored of watching it over and over again. When I found out I was going to be seeing Matthew Perry’s THE END OF LONGING the other week though, I dug out my box set and watched some episodes and was delighted to see how homely the show feels; there’s a sort of timeless quality to that show that feels intimate every single time you watch it. With that in mind, I was heading to the Playhouse Theatre with a similar mind set: considering Perry still hasn’t managed to shake off the fame he garnered on Friends, I was expecting something similar – and something similar is exactly what I got.
1: The Familiarity
Let’s be brutally honest here: you are in a serious minority if you are in the audience of this show and you have never seen an episode of Friends, so it would be silly of Matthew Perry to ignore this fact. As a result, the play feels like a more grown-up version of Friends with characters with actual issues. Perry’s character Jack is an alcoholic, whilst his love interest Stephanie is a high end prostitute. It may sound like some heavy stuff, but Perry manages to take the adult nature of the people and turn it into comedy that is fit for the audience it’s written for.
2: The Design
The standout for me in the play was, strangely, the design aspect. It’s a very sleek and modern take on the world the characters are in (modern day New York) and it not only added to the classy attitudes of the people, but it managed to make New York City a character for itself in how sophisticated it felt. Whether or not it was the smooth transitions between the scenes or the expensive, black colour scheme, it was a pleasure to watch.
3: The Cast
The show is performed by an ensemble of four actors and whilst it is clear that most will be going to see Matthew Perry, I actually think it’s the other actors in the group that make the overall performance the most enjoyable. Broadway-alum Jennifer Mudge is my favourite part of the whole show as Perry’s love interest Stephanie as she seems to just generally ooze sass and class, whilst balancing a whole lot of heart in there as well. Lloyd Owen (who I’d previously seen in The Bodyguard at the Adelphi) was also very charming as Joseph, as was his love interest Stevie played by Christina Cole – they make an adorable couple on stage and fantastic light relief from the more serious tone between Perry and Mudge.
4: The Relatability
I’m definitely far too young to understand this on a personal level but from what I understand from what I heard around me in the theatre, the lives of these characters (albeit rather extravagant and upper class) are relatable to the Friends-era theatregoers. The characters talk about their everyday and life-long struggles as adults wanting babies, being on the dating scene and feeling comfortable in themselves, as well as talking about the positives and finding happiness around them.
5: Matthew Perry
At the end of the day, whether you intended to come and see it for him or not, you are watching the play that was created by and stars Friends-alum Matthew Perry, which is pretty darn cool. No matter how much you found the play enlightening or not, you just got to see a play with one of the bigger sitcom stars of all time – go you!
Have you seen THE END OF LONGING at the Playhouse Theatre yet? If you have, tweet me @shaunycat and @theatre_direct to let me know your thoughts. And if you haven’t, you can get THE END OF LONGING tickets on LondonTheatreDirect.com.
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