Implausible dramedy by Matthew Perry about 4 friends in present day Los Angeles
By: Patrick Christiano
June 15, 2017: MCC Theater, in an apparent case of “take the money and run,” has produced The End of Longing by Matthew Perry, the “Friends” television star, who has turned his candid confessions surrounding his drug and alcohol issues into a sometimes-witty comment on alcoholism. The play even has a scene near the end where Mr. Perry’s character, Jack, makes a sentimental admission that, “I am an alcoholic.”
Throughout the evening Mr. Perry is front and center, as the catalyst of his own tale, and the sole reason for bringing his story, recently produced in London, to the Lucille Lortel Theatre. The Lucille Lortel is a landmark theater just a few short blocks from the building in the West Village, whose façade is infamously known as the location for “Friends.”
Geared to Mr. Perry’s fan base, The End of Longing is an often cringe inducing evening starring the actor, and first-time playwright, as Jack, an alcoholic ad-man, who falls in love with Stephanie, a high-priced escort played by Jennifer Morrison. Jack is like an older more pathetic version of Chandler from “Friends.” Stephanie is a total fantasy woman, and when she doesn’t charge Jack for a roll in the hay the storyline becomes completely implausible.
Unfortunately, the characters are stereotypical, and Mr. Perry’s play is also not very good. In fact, it is so bad, one wonders why MCC even agreed to produce, except for the money. The story focuses on Jack and Stephanie’s dysfunctional romantic relationship and is composed as a series of scenes that portrays the relationship of four friends. We initially meet the four in a bar in California, where Jack is hitting on Stephanie.
As Jack and Stephanie’s friendship kicks off, their struggles are contrasted with Jeffery’s relationship with his girlfriend Stevie. Jeffery is Jack’s best friend, played by Quincy Dunn-Baker, a sweet dim- witted regular guy, who dreams of becoming a fireman, but has a pathological fear of fire. His neurotic girlfriend, Stevie, is Stephanie’s best friend, played by Sue Jean Kim. Stevie is desperate for a child and terrified her biological clock is about to give out.
The evening follows the customary breakup and makeup trajectory of romantic comedies, replete with over dramatic breakdowns and confessional monologues for Mr. Perry. This stuff is strictly for die-hard fans of Mr. Perry and “Friends.”
The End of Longing opened on June 5, 2017 at the Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher Street in the West Village. Performances run through July 1, 2017. For tickets call 868-811-4111 or online at mcctheater.org
Photos: Joan Marcus