The Last Five Years, Southwark Playhouse - ★★★★★ - Until March 28, 2020

Photographer: Pamela Raith.

The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown is a song cycle tracing the relationship of actress, Cathy (Molly Lynch) and writer, Jamie (Oli Higginson). The unusual aspect is that from his perspective we see the love affair develop in its chronological sequence while from hers we see it from when it has ended and we work back to its inception. The two characters separately meditate on the highs and lows of what has happened and only actual come together at the midpoint when they marry in anticipation of a life together. This unusual structure might be confusing and it does require some concentration to remember who is at which point at any given time, but the effort is well-rewarded. How we go into relationships and how we exit them are poignantly juxtaposed, and we see that what might seem like small challenges at the beginning become serious problems in the duration. The issues are the usual ones - different values, careers which are on different arcs and infidelity - but they are beautifully delineated in Brown's clever lyrics and memorable melodies. This is a musical you will want to listen to again and to savour. All of the songs are a delight, starting with the wistful "Still Hurting" and hilarious "Shiksa Goddess" right through to "Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You." Molly Lynch and Oli Higginson are amazingly talented and their singing, piano playing and acting skills create wonderfully convincing performances. They completely inhabit their roles. The direction by Jonathan O'Boyle is deft and the use of the revolving stage is extremely effective. This is a musical for today and for anyone who has ever embarked on the relationship path.

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until March 28, 2020
Mon - Sat: 7:30 pm, Tue & Sat: 3 pm
Southwark Playhouse
Nearest tube: Elephant and Castle
https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/show/the-last-five-years/

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