Chandler Bing has likely woken up this morning wishing he’d stuck with Friends.
Matthew Perry’s new play The End of Longing, about the lives of four people hoping to find love and happiness, has been destroyed by critics after it opened in the West End on Thursday night.
The 46-year-old actor stars in his playwriting debut at London’s Playhouse Theatre but sadly, most reviewers have already branded it “woeful”, “flimsy” and “essentially a dud” in two-star pannings.
The Guardian notes that Perry gave himself “most of the best lines” in what amounts to little more than an “extended sitcom” while The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish reckons it “all feels like a curious waste of time, money and effort”.
The Independent’s Holly Williams does not hold back, describing Perry’s “gendered cliches” as “stale as a drunk’s morning breath”, but later gave credit to the “real charge” he adds when contemplating a life without alcohol. “Perry is a big box-office draw, but The End of Longing will leave all except the most devoted Friends fans longing for the end,” she writes.
Best celebrity cameos in Friends
Best celebrity cameos in Friends
1/20 Brad Pitt, series 8
Brad Pitt played Will Colbert, the boy Rachel used to bully at school (we know, how could she?). The pair were still married in real life at the time
2/20 Robin Williams, series 3
Robin Williams and Billy Crystal played best friends who crashed the iconic orange couch in Friends coffee shop Central Perk (awkward). Williams' character began stressing over his suspicions that his wife was cheating on him, while the bemused group of friends listened in
3/20 Freddie Prinze Jr, series 9
Freddie Prinze Jr played Rachel and Ross' male nanny Sandy, much to Ross' initial disapproval. He had a tendency to cry but put on flute and puppet shows for Emma
4/20 Charlie Sheen, series 2
Charlie Sheen played Phoebe's former Navy man lover Ryan in 'The One with the Chicken Pox'. Ross' son Ben had chicken pox and the couple, who had never had the virus, ended up falling ill. Needless to say, Ryan didn't show up again
5/20 Danny Devito, series 10
Danny Devito starred as 50-year-old stripper 'Officer Roy Goodbody' at Phoebe's bachelorette party. He broke down in tears after the friends were initially unimpressed, bu then Phoebe told him to give it his all...
6/20 Elle Macpherson, season 6
Model Elle Macpherson made an appearance as Janine Lecroix, Joey's roommate and eventual girlfriend. No, we weren't quite convinced by that one either...
7/20 Jennifer Saunders, series 4
Absolutely Fabulous' Jennifer Saunders starred as Ross' mother-in-law to be, Emily's mother Andrea. Let's just say it's a good job he said the wrong name at the wedding
8/20 Bruce Willis, series 6
Bruce Willis starred as the father of Ross' girlfriend Elizabeth. He did not like Ross. In fact, he really, really didn't like Ross. But he did like Rachel. So that was all a bit awkward
9/20 Brooke Shields, series 2
Brooke Shields made one of the early cameo appearances as Joey's crazy stalker Erica. She believed he was actually Dr Drake Ramoray, the character he played on Days of Our Lives. Then there was some hand licking...
10/20 Alec Baldwin, series 8
Alec Baldwin played Phoebe's new boyfriend Parker in 'The One in Massapequa'. He drove everyone mad with his incessant OTT compliments and Phoebe demanded he 'be much less happy'
11/20 Sean Penn, series 8
Sean Penn played the fiance of Phoebe's twin sister Ursula. But when Phoebe met her brother-in-law to be she found out that Ursula had lied to him about, well, pretty much everything
12/20 Denise Richards, series 7
Denise Richards appeared in 'The One With Ross And Monica's Cousin' as Cassie. The Gellers hadn't seen her in years and her utter gorgeousness caused Ross to overstep the mark. To be fair, we don't blame him
13/20 Julia Roberts, series 2
Don't believe that Julia Roberts would ever date Chandler? That's because her character Susie 'Underpants' Moss was out for revenge after Chandler pulled up her skirt at school. He ended up wearing nothing but her knickers in a restaurant toilet
14/20 Jennifer Coolidge, season 10
As Phoebe and Monica's old roommate Amanda, Jennifer Coolidge was a bit of a handful (ok, that's an understatement). 'Look at me!'; 'Smell my neck!' were just some of her remarks. And then she went and told Monica that Phoebe had once attempted to 'cut her out'
15/20 Winona Ryder, series seven
Winona Ryder played Melissa, one of Rachel's old school friends. The pair had shared a kiss during a sorority party. Years later, Melissa declared her undying love. Rachel said: 'I'm just a good kisser'
16/20 Greg Kinnear, series 10
Greg Kinnear played the boyfriend of Ross' new flame Charlie. Dr Benjamin Hobart was a Nobel Peace Prize-winning paleontologist - who also happened to run the grant committee Ross had applied to. Dr Hobart wanted Ross to break up with Charlie; but then Charlie realised she still loved him and they got together anyway
17/20 Paul Rudd, series 9 and 10
Paul Rudd played Mike Hannigan, Phoebe's boyfriend and eventual husband. They met after Joey failed to set up a blind date for his friend and then randomly shouted out 'Mike' in Central Perk. Well, it's an alternative to Tinder...
18/20 Dakota Fanning, series 10
Dakota Fanning played the precocious daughter of a couple whose house Monica and Chandler were viewing. She befriended Joey, who wasn't too happy about his friends moving to the suburbs
19/20 Jeff Goldblum, series 9
Jeff Goldblum played director Leonard Hayes. He was seriously impressed by Joey's audition for his play, but didn't realise his agitated performance was fuelled by a desperate need to pee. Until Joey relieved himself when the pair hugged...
20/20 Christina Applegate, series 9
Christina Applegate played Rachel's younger sister Amy. Rachel and Ross got pretty mad when she mistook Emma for a boy and kept calling her Emmitt. She insulted everyone else to boot
Not all critics were quite so savage, with The Stage applauding the cast for making The End of Longing “a more watchable experience than the material readily deserves” despite calling it “superficial” and “phoney”. Quentin Letts also had a tepid reaction, writing in the Daily Mail that the play is “not a bad Valentine’s date play for the under-50s”.
WhatsOnStage.com’s critic Michael Coveney actually enjoyed the performance, praising its “superb” acting, “on-the-nose” directing and “very funny” writing. So hey, maybe don’t completely rule Chandler out just yet.
Sadly though, Perry has already made the decision not to appear in the upcoming Friends cast reunion on Sunday 21 February.