Off-Broadway Review: “The End of Longing”

Off-Broadway Review: “The End of Longing”

Joseph Verlezza

“The End of Longing,” now playing and extended by popular demand at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, is yet another example of the evermore trending evidence that the use of star power will attract an audience regardless of the merit of the vehicle. In this case it is Matthew Perry starring in his less than interesting playwriting debut, which only succeeds at being a poorly written rom com that is implausible, with one dimensional characters spouting one-liners that for the most part are not funny. The old adage “write what you know” rings true here. Mr. Perry has written about three seasons of sitcom episodes condensed into one-hundred minutes that expose ridiculous situations completely void of emotional content. 

Perry’s characters simply do not feel anything and neither does the audience, so they laugh. Jack (Matthew Perry) is a slovenly, appalling alcoholic that picks up Stephanie (Jennifer Morrison) a gorgeous, well put together, educated, high end escort, while her pill popping, neurotic best friend Stevie (Sue Jean Kim) who works for a pharmaceutical company, happens to have already slept with Jack’s dumber than dumb construction worker best friend Jeffrey (Quincy Dunn-Baker) and they all live happily ever after. It is all predictable and when trying to take a couple of dramatic turns it fails miserably. Director Lindsay Posner who also directed the West End production keeps a smart brisk pace so as not to leave the audience pondering the glib one-liners too long, moving on to the next quickly. Scenic design by Derek McLane is clever, with creative inventive walls of empty bottles that revolve to reveal the next scene. It could represent the alcoholic addiction addressed, the vacuous dialogue of the script, or possibly the utter indulgence in low brow humor.

Despite the play’s overwhelming deficits, at the end of the performance attended, the audience rose to their feet for a standing ovation possibly in keeping with the vacuous tone of the evening. If an actor was as successful as Mr. Perry in the 90’s, and is a recognized, rejuvenated star of syndicated television for a new generation, he must be good. When leaving the theatre there was a line of fans who had not even seen the production, waiting at the stage door for a glimpse and autograph of the star. Perhaps the new theatre community and audiences are more concerned with persona rather than performance. 

THE END OF LONGING

The cast of “The End of Longing” includes Quincy Dunn-Baker, Sue Jean Kim, Jennifer Morrison, and Matthew Perry.  

The design team for MCC’s “The End of Longing” includes scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Sarah Laux, lighting design by Ben Stanton, and sound design by Ryan Rumery.  Casting is by Telsey + Co/William Cantler, C.S.A. Prodiction photos by Joan Marcus.

“The End of Longing” plays through July 1st at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street).  For tickets and info, visit www.mcctheater.org. Running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes without intermission. Photo: Sue Jean Kim, Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Perry, and Quincy Dunn-Baker in MCC Theater's "The End of Longing." Credit: Joan Marcus.

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