As a once devoted fan of both “Friends” and Matthew Perry’s Chandler Bing, it pains me to have to say that “The End of Longing,” the new Off-Broadway play written by and starring Perry, is embarrassingly terrible.
So bad, in fact, that I find it hard to believe that any random person who attends this contrived, mawkish, painfully unfunny and utterly pointless star vehicle can’t write something better.
After premiering last year in London’s West End (where it was roundly panned), the play is now receiving its New York debut at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in the West Village. Perry is joined by Jennifer Morrison (“Once Upon a Time”), Sue Jean Kim and Quincy Dunn-Baker, with direction by West End heavyweight Lindsay Posner.
Perry (who has a history of substance abuse) plays Jack, an eccentric and combative drunk who will hit on young women in bars, drink a martini during a morning softball practice and desperately beg for prescription medication at a late night pharmacy. Jack is not unlike an older, sadder, more pathetic version of Chandler Bing.
The play focuses on the unlikely pairing of Jack and Stephanie (Morrison), who works as a high-end escort. Their dysfunctional relationship is contrasted with that of their friends, the neurotic Stevie (Kim) and the quiet Jeffrey (Dunn-Baker).
It contains the standard breakup-and-makeup trajectory of a romantic comedy, multiple overdramatic breakdowns and confessional monologues for Perry.
It’s disconcerting that MCC Theater agreed to produce the play, which proves that even a much-respected not-for-profit will put on a play by a once-popular TV actor, regardless of its quality.