The Last Five Years in Concert – Review

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The Last Five Years in Concert: The Other Palace Studio, London

Reviewed 14th September 2018

Jason Robert-Brown’s award winning hit The Last Five Years was revived and performed in an intimate performance at The Other Palace’s Studio. The Last Five Years tells the story of Cathy, a struggling actress, and Jamie, a budding novelist, through five years of their life. The musical is told by Cathy moving backwards in time from the end of their relationship whilst Jamie tells the story from the beginning of their relationship. The two characters only meet once, in the middle, at their wedding.

With an emotional and, often, humorous score The Last Five Years has been a hit since its Off-Broadway premiere in 2002 and has also been made into a blockbuster film starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. The honest two-person production has the power to completely draw the audience in as we watch the characters relationship blossom and crumble told from both perspectives in this unusual way of telling their story.

Whilst newcomers to this musical may initially be slightly confused by the time shifts between characters, it is this very aspect that makes this musical stand out. It is very innovative and the songs themselves are so cleverly intertwined and expressive that despite the limited dialogue and the complexities of the plot the audience is quickly drawn in. Throughout the show the audiences attention and interest swings from character to character as the show builds a picture of Cathy and Jamie’s relationship and their emotions through the fantastic storytelling within the songs.

Andy Coxon, who has previously played Jamie in the Frankfurt premiere of the musical, was excellent in the role. Portraying just the right amount of expression he had the audience on his side from the outset. His comic ability shone during ‘Shiksa Goddess‘ and ‘The Schmuel Song‘ whilst his ability to channel anger, regret and desperation into ‘Nobody Needs to Know‘ was brilliant.
Jessica Brandes’ vocals as Cathy were superb. Again, her comic timing within the songs ‘A Summer in Ohio‘ and ‘I Can Do Better Than That‘ was hilarious. The emotion in ‘Still Hurting‘ was subtle but effective. Clearly Jessica is a fantastic singer and her power and belt was particularly great.
The talented onstage band led by MD Noam Galperin brought the score to life beautifully.
The Last Five Years is a relatively unknown musical with the masses but it definitely deserves for this to change. Unlike other shows, this musical truly shows the two sides to a relationship and the innovative way that it does so is brilliant. In addition, the songs are clever, expressive and gorgeous to listen to. If The Last Five Years is playing in any capacity near you then I’d urge you to take the chance to see it for yourself.

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