By turns joyful and heartbreaking, this virtual performance of Jason Robert Brown’s musical is a wonderful way to present it.
It has to be said that sometimes theatre is at its best when it is delivered in a simple and straightforward way – which is certainly the case for this wonderful virtual performance of Jason Robert Brown’s musical looking at the break down of a marriage.
The Last Five Years is completely unique from any other musical that I have seen in terms of its style and the way in which the story unfolds. Cathy’s version of the relationship takes the audience from the breakdown of the marriage to when they first met, while Jamie’s tells it chronologically. From each perspective, there is real depth and understanding that is conveyed through Jason Robert Brown’s gorgeous music and lyrics. Each song really hits you emotionally as you get drawn into this couple’s relationship, with songs such as ‘Still Hurting’ and ‘If I didn’t Believe in You’ really making an impact.
This limited run of the show is directed by Lauren Samuels, who does so with great delicacy and sensitivity really letting the characters and the music stand out. But there are also lovely little touches and attention to detail that add a sense of theatricality – the use of props and different outfits for example make it feel as though we are watching a theatre production. Meanwhile, the whole show has also been filmed with great slickness and imagination – particularly during the wedding scene (the only time that the characters appear together) that is effective to watch.
The whole show is filled with emotion that really shines through in the way in which it has been presented this time. Yes, it is bittersweet musical – enhanced further by the opposing approaches to the relationship but also through the strong and charismatic performances from the two cast members. Lauren Samuels as struggling actress Cathy offers real vulnerability during ‘I’m Still Hurting’ but also a sense of playfulness that is endearing to watch – she really shines in this role. Danny Becker as Jamie is suitably charming as successful author Jamie, but also highlights the increasing arrogance and confusion at what he wants from life. It is a nicely balanced performance.
Overall, this was a stunning way to present this lovely show – mesmerising to watch from start to finish. Filled with heart and warmth, this virtual performance was really effective.
By Emma Clarendon
The Last Five Years is streaming until the 27th June. To book a ticket to watch the show click here.