We round up the reviews for Jonathan O’Boyle’s production of Jason Robert Brown’s musical at the Southwark Playhouse.
WhatsOnStage: ***** “This staging adds so much more to the musical than ordinarily, and O’Boyle’s choices enable him to mine Brown’s lyrics and come up with gold.”
The Stage: ***** “O’Boyle is forensic in the way he pulls apart familiar material, interrogates every line, and reconstructs it in a minutely detailed way. He doesn’t reinvent Robert Brown’s material, but does completely revitalise it, so that it’s like seeing the show, thrillingly, for the first time.”
The Arts Desk: **** “At its best, O’Boyle’s exciting new take builds on that, clashing the couple’s romance against an artistry that we witness in the form of this actor-muso bravura skill.”
Evening Standard: *** “The score and lyrics are mostly sharp, smart and bouncy; Jonathan O’Boyle’s production is atmospheric and slick. Oli Higginson is attractive and clear-voiced as Jamie, Molly Lynch even better as Cathy. “
Time Out: **** “Lynch and Higginson are also the reason why this bias doesn’t feel glaring. From their comic timing, to their singing, to their shading of their characters, they hold the stage.”
British Theatre.com: ***** “Whilst, admittedly, it’s a little early to crown The Last Five Years as Best Musical Revival, or even (under O’Boyle’s meticulously truthful imagining) Best New Musical of 2020, there will have to be a pretty special piece of theatre to topple it off its well-earned pedestal.”
London Theatre.co.uk: ***** “Jonathan O’Boyle’s arresting production pulls off a rare feat of integrating their storylines throughout, as each performer quietly supports the other by offering frequent keyboard accompaniment on the grand piano centre stage. I’ve seen many actor-musician productions before of other musicals, but never one that so slyly supports and deepens the narrative connections.”
The Reviews Hub: *** 1/2 “Bringing it to life via Jonathan O’Boyle’s zippy, fluid direction is Oli Higginson and Molly Lynch. Both seem to really come alive in a few highlight songs – the fascinating and varied Schmuel Song for him and I Can Do Better Than That for her – though don’t quite keep the energy and verve up throughout the 90-minute runtime.”
Rewrite This Story: **** “With humourous sequences (Jamie on facetime during A Summer in Ohio) and devastating moments of relationship failure, this really is a roller coaster gem of a piece.”
Broadway World: **** “While the duo’s impressive craft is undeniable, the dive in the imperceptible emotive changes at the heart of certain songs isn’t as evident. This is especially noticeable in her “See I’m Smiling” and his “Nobody Needs to Know”, where the cathartic shift doesn’t hit as powerfully as the lyrics suggest. Nonetheless, the end result is affecting and passionate.”
The Last Five Years continues to play at the Southwark Playhouse until the 28th March.