EXCLUSIVE: Midding-to-scorching reviews have not dissuaded London theatergoers from making Matthew Perry’s star turn in his playwriting debut a breakthrough West End sellout. Entering the final week of its run, The End of Longing has become the Playhouse Theater’s most successful drama to date.
The four-hander, which also stars Christina Cole, Jennifer Mudge and Lloyd Owen, has banked over $2 million in ticket sales, with more than 62,000 tickets sold. If the fact that 12,000 of them were first time attendees suggests anything, it’s likely that Perry — or, more accurately, Chandler Bing, late of Friends — was the draw. Perry last appeared in the West End more than a decade ago, in a revival of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago.
Staged by Lindsay Posner, the play revolves around Perry’s Jack, a coarse boozer and photographer. His circle includes the expensive hooker he falls for, his nitwit best friend and the hooker’s best friend. There are shades of both the Mamet play and of Friends in all this, not to mention Perry’s well-publicized, now long-ago battles with drugs and alcohol.
“Perry, with his permanent stubble and greying hair, is certainly a beguiling presence and generously gives his character most of the play’s best lines: at one point he declares that, having been awake for several days, “I finally fell asleep during a Rolling Stones concert,” wrote Dominic Cavendish in the Telegraph, calling the show “a dud.” He wasn’t alone. The End of Longing ends its limited run in the West End on May 14.