WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE?: Southwark Playhouse RUNTIME: 90 minutes (no interval)
WHEN?: 6/10/20 (matinee), runs to 14/11/20
This production opened in March shortly before lockdown and has returned to this venue which has added Perspex screens between groups in the audience.
- Read on for reasons including to watch two clips of songs from the show
The screens slightly obscure our view but the piano on a revolve means this musical in the round draws the audience in so much that our enjoyment is unimpaired.
The Last Five Years is the story of how New Yorkers Jamie and Cathy met and married but while his story is told chronologically, hers is told backwards.
Usually only one of the pair is onstage while they are singing with their stories only intersecting at the middle of the show when he proposes in Central Park (watch The Next Ten Minutes below).
However, in this production the couple are onstage together throughout which allows greater interaction with the other and gives more insight into the relationship.
The audience’s sympathies definitely lie with Cathy who we see strumming a ukulele during comedy highlight A Summer In Ohio, one of the best tracks from the new Lucie Jones album. Her failed auditions in Climbing Uphill remind of film La La Land .
Not only does Molly Lynch sing well but she pulls off a neat trick of being both endearing and funny. Writer Jamie’s having much more success and Oli Higginson embodies the rock’n’roll swagger of a talent seemingly unstoppable.
The Last Five Years was written by Jason Robert Brown, premiered off Broadway in 2001 and is even a film starring Anna Kendrick.
We’ve seen the show only once below with a stellar cast at the Other Palace in 2016.
Jonathan Bailey would go on to Sondheim’s acclaimed Company at the Gielgud while Samantha Barks would become a Broadway leading lady in Pretty Woman: The Musical and is due to play the lead in Frozen at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
They’re definitely a tough act to follow but we prefer Higginson and Lynch in this production.