Music/Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown
Director: Helen Carter, Stephen Fletcher, Nick Phillips
Reviewer: Steph Rowe
Not being one who frequents studio theatres often, I am always a little weary of what I am about to watch, I always feel as thou I am in some way part of the show…Which is not always a bad thing, with The last 5 Years I felt like a fly on the wall as both Stephen Fletcher and Helen Carter took us through the troubled relationship of Jamie Willerstein and Cathy Hiatt, helped by the wonderful Piano playing of Nick Phillips.
The story of how Jamie becomes a successful writer while Cathy struggles to make herself known as an actress requires powerful voice control and a strong depth of emotion which both Stephen and Helen have managed to achieve with near perfection in this 80 minute show. Having seen both actors in various shows previously, I was pleasantly and somewhat amazed at the talent both these actors displayed. Usually Feltcher can be found treading the boards in a comedy role, so it was great to see his talent unleashed in a role of this calibre, yes there were humorous moments but in all he and Carter took the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotion, coupled by the excellent performances Jason Robert Brown’s music and lyrics soar with delicious melodies and powerful lyrics.
The song cycle chart’s the characters relationship in a unique way. Jamie’s starting at the beginning of their relationship, from the first meeting while Cathy’s starts from the end. There is a very poignant moment in the middle where both of them reach the same point of the story and perform a duet, which adds to the already captivating tale.
Simple staging is key to the power of this production with a scattering of symbolic props used throughout and a small black box, this production is all about the music and the performances and all the stronger for it.
If there was a fault then it was at times the Piano seems to overpower the vocals, meaning that sometimes the lyrics are lost, which is a crying shame, if the balance could be sorted out then this would undoubtedly be the 5 star show it deserves to be.
Life in Theatre have produced one of the best pieces of theatre seen in the region in a long time and is a must see for lovers of musical theatre, for relatively little cost this is a great way to spend an evening and with the price of theatre tickets at an all time high these days we all need to feel we have had value for money and The Last 5 Years certainly achieves just that.