Jason Robert Brown’s musical, The Last Five Years, is one of his best works. So I am delighted to see this new production in the West End at the Garrick Theatre for a four-week run, especially because I didn’t get a chance to see it at the Southwark Playhouse last year.
Molly Lynch and Oli Higginson reprise their roles as Cathy and Jamie, in this actor-muso production bringing a third person into the relationship – a piano.
The Last Five Years is a musical where the two performers never interact – they just take turns to reminisce about their relationship together through song. Cleverly in this production, when one is singing, the other is playing the piano, making a strong connection between the couple which is usually lost because the actors just stand on different sides of the stage.
The Last Five Years is an emotionally powerful and intimate story about two New Yorkers who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The musical’s unconventional structure unfolds as Cathy, a struggling actor, tells her story in reverse, from the end of their turbulent relationship, whilst Jamie, a literary prodigy, tells his story chronologically from the spark of their initial meeting. In the musical, the two characters meet only once, at their wedding, which falls in the middle of the show.
The music is glorious and to see it being played by the actors (with a small band at the back of the stage) adds so much power to the story.
Molly Lynch gives beautiful renditions of ‘I’m Still Hurting’, ‘A Summer In Ohio’ and ‘I Can Do Better Than That’. She has a beautiful voice and would be perfect in the role of Vivian in Pretty Woman. Oli Higginson, with an air of Ben Platt in his voice, gives great comedy to the songs ‘Shiksa Goddess’ and ‘The Schmuel Song’ and my favourite song in the show ‘If I Didn’t Believe In You’ is sung beautifully.
The Last Five Years is ninety minutes of pure joy and should be seen by everyone. It’s only on until 17 October and so you’d best get booking your tickets now!
Reviewed by West End Wilma