It’s the second time round for this production of The Last 5 Years, which was first staged to acclaim at the Actors Studio last summer. Now, in a bigger theatre and for a longer run, there’s no excuse not to go and see what all the fuss is about.
A clever two-handed musical that tells the story of a relationship, the show goes backwards from the point of view of bubbly actress Cathy, and from the beginning of the story for cocky young author Jamie. Covering everything from the elation of their first meeting to the pain of lost love, it is an extraordinarily well-observed and meticulously written one act piece from Jason Robert Brown.
Reprising their roles as the doomed couple are Stephen Fletcher and Helen Carter. Both use the extra space of the Epstein stage – and auditorium – to really give things some welly and their passion shines through. Their completely faultless performances elevate an already near perfect show.
Although Jamie loses a little of his warmth in the transition to a bigger venue and the character seems more pushy and self-centred than he did before, Cathy is more adorable than ever, and Carter’s portrayal really is one of the best things you will see on stage all year. From her first heartbreaking number Still Hurting to the confused uncertainty of A Part of That she is simply at her best throughout, in a role it would appear she was born to play.
Musical director Nick Phillips this time has the accompaniment of a cellist and violin player, which enhances the production wonderfully. A tearjerker of the highest order, The Last 5 Years is a beautiful piece of musical theatre bought expertly to life. It runs until the end of June and should not be missed.
Read the review of last year’s performance here.