Garrick Theatre, London
Music, lyrics and book by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Jonathan O'Boyle
For The Last Five Years, the last eighteen months have seen this show albeit skewered by the pandemic, transfer from a glorious run on London’s fringe at the Southwark Playhouse to the commercial bear-pit of the West End, taking up a month’s residence at the Garrick.
The artistic genius of its performers remains. Slightly matured from their south London opening, Molly Lynch and Oli Higginson remain excellent as time-crossed lovers Cathy and Jamie, famously charting their five year relationship in opposing time dimensions. As Jamie moves forward from impetuous passion to duplicitous deceit, so does Cathy follow a reverse arc, opening with the grief of a shattered marriage and closing with her deliriously sincere and hopeful Goodbye Until Tomorrow.
Molly and Oli are indeed magnificent - but not for no reason has this curiosity of a show struggled to even open on Broadway. The intense magic of Jonathan O’Boyle’s work at Southwark dissipates under the scrutiny of a multi-tiered West End house, its cast now removed to behind their proscenium arch. What this production defines is that The Last 5 Years is essentially a chamber work and that Brown’s ingenious dissection of a love’s birth and subsequent demise is best savoured up-close. While some of his show’s numbers are barnstorming roofraisers (Lynch delivers a knockout I Can Do Better Than That) overall, the piece struggles to captivate.
This Garrick production is one for the fans, undoubtedly a gathering of genius in both its cast and creative crew. But much like Jamie and Cathy’s love, something has died here.
Runs until 17th October
Phot credit: Helen Maybanks