The End of Longing is so much more than play for Friends fans to go and gush over Matthew Perry. In fact this brilliantly written and oh-so-witty play makes you wonder how Perry’s skilful writing had been kept from us for this long.
Perry says, “I knew I wanted to write a play for the ‘Friends generation’, the singles in their 30s and 40s longing for love and relationship and dealing with the dilemmas they’re facing”.
The play is a dark comedy about four people: Jack (Matthew Perry), a raging alcoholic; Stephanie (Jennifer Mudge), an attractive and confident prostitute; Joseph (Lloyd Owen), a nice and simple guy, and Stevie (Christina Cole), a neurotic but loveable basket case. All four characters are broken in some way, but all are looking for love and coming to the realisation that people can change. The strong cast in this lay are an absolute delight to watch and there is never one moment where they allow a scene to drag or lose their energy. This cast is sensational and a fantastic complement to the great writing.
Every good comedy has some down time when the laughter stops long enough to give the audience more insight into the characters. Each character delivers a memorable and emotional performance that is so moving it is hard not to feel overly involved in their lives. Perry delivers the most heart wrenching monologue at the end of the play and it’s his desperation and quivering lip that takes all my self restraint not to go on stage to console him. We know he can give us the laughs, but this play gives us so much more of Perry’s endless talent.
It seems that Jack might be somewhat autobiographical written as we learn about his addiction problems. Whether or not this is intentional, and it’s hard to think it wouldn’t be, it adds a very real dimension to this final monologue which makes it one of the play’s most memorable moments.
There is a little too much swearing for my taste and I thought it could be toned down at times without losing meaning or effect. Nevertheless, all the anxieties and fears of the characters are relatable whether you’re 25 or 45. There is at least one moment in the play for every adult to relate to, if not more.
The audience roll with laughter pretty much from start to end and there is a spatter of applause for all the particularly clever lines. The small cast of four hold together this play fantastically and really work with Perry’s words. The result is one of the best plays I have seen in a long time.
The End of Longing plays Playhouse Theatre until 14 May 2016. For more information and tickets, see www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-end-of-longing