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Matthew Perry’s Playwriting Debut Slammed by West End Critics

Matthew Perry’s playwriting debut “The End of Longing” opened in the West End last night — and many London critics weren’t kind.

The play, in which Perry also stars, seems to bear a superficial resemblance to “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” the David Mamet comedy in which Perry appeared in the West End in 2003 — and also incorporates echoes of his own personal struggles with addiction. The storyline centers on an alcoholic photographer (Perry), the escort (Jennifer Mudge) he becomes romantically entangled with, and the tentative relationship struck up by two of their friends (Christina Cole, Lloyd Owen).

London critics can be notably welcoming to fresh playwrighting talent, but not this time. Reviewers at some of London’s major papers, and at this one, were pretty brutal. Here’s a look at the pans:

“It might be quite courageous, were it not so awkward to watch — a star vehicle with its wheels falling off, and its star never quite in control. As it is, it’s hard not to feel that both actor and audience are being exploited.” — Matt Trueman in Variety

“Judging by the number of fans at the stage-door afterwards, his devotees might make this a hit, but there’s little disguising the fact that it is essentially a dud … it all feels like a curious waste of time, money and effort.” — Dominic Cavendish in The Telegraph

“It is a woeful attempt at a dark-but-redemptive romcom. … There’s so little believable connection or tenderness between these friends and lovers, and their characters have about as much depth as a puddle in a heatwave.” — Holly Williams in the Independent

“… What works in half-hour bites on television looks decidedly thin on the stage. … [W]hile the play clearly aims to deal with four loners struggling to come to terms with early middle-age, it feels more like an extended sitcom in which there is little going on behind the lines.” — Michael Billington in The Guardian

Perry can take solace, at least, in the handful of critics who were friendlier to the play by the former “Friends” star:

“The snobs won’t like this play which is, at times, a sort of extended episode of Friends with swearing and sex. But it is much darker … taking us where the TV sitcom could never go. It is funny, consistently and often laugh out loud.” — Ann Treneman in The Times

“While the play could never be described as particularly profound or poetical, Lindsay Posner’s production is coolly staged, well acted and thoroughly watchable. I enjoyed it, though fully expect to forget much of it within a week or so.” — Quentin Letts in The Daily Mail

There have also been plenty of people in the audience who seem to enjoy the play, as evidenced in the support they’ve shown on Twitter:

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