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THE LAST FIVE YEARS the musical

Published by: Elaine Pinkus on 4th Nov 2016 | View all blogs by Elaine Pinkus

THE LAST FIVE YEARS  St James Theatre

The Last Five Years by Tony Award winner Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown has returned to the UK following its previous showing at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2006 and its productions across the pond in the US. Now showing at the St James Theatre, Victoria, this cult musical has once again delighted its audience who whooped and cheered  at the excellent performances of Samantha Barks, (best known for playing Eponine in Les Miserables) in the role of Cathy and Jonathan Bailey (best known for TV productions including Broadchurch and Hooten and the Lady) as Jamie.

Marriage of Cathy and Jamie

Samantha Barks as Cathy and Jonathan Bailey as Jamie

This powerful and intimate musical tells the story of Jamie and Cathy, two New Yorkers in their 20s each with strong ambitions, she as an actress, he as a writer, who fall in love and marry. Over the course of five years their careers take different paths. Jamie gets the book deal of his dreams and moves onward and upward whereas Cathy struggles to get work and is on a treadmill of failed auditions. Once united by their dreams, their relationship struggles over the course of five years and we share with them their thoughts and experiences through song, supported by the talented band under the direction of Torquil Munro.

Jamie's story

From the start, Cathy’s Still Hurting leads us into the disappointments and sadness of what was once a powerful relationship. The songs that follow trace each stage of the past five years, with Cathy taking us back in time and Jamie reminiscing but also moving forward. Once his inspiration, Cathy now has too many doubts and Jamie's song If I didn’t believe in you sadly shows his frustration. And so the duo suffers with the finality of their marriage at the close. Is Cathy to exist only in his shadow? Are her dreams simply dreams (I Can Do Better Than That)?

Cathy

Simplistically put, this is the breakdown of a marriage but the piece is far deeper than that. It is the disappointment on the one hand of failed dreams, failed expectations and frustration and on the other the power of success. Despite the passion and love, there is insufficient courage from our couple to ride the storm together.

Cathy auditions

At times there are memories of Lloyd-Webber/Don Black’s Tell Me On A Sunday and Hamlisch’s A Chorus Line but there is no denying that this musical stands up on its own merit. Both Barks and Bailey deliver their numbers, hers more heartfelt, his more punchy, with conviction and are deserving of the huge applause they received. If I have one disappointment it is that sadly the numbers are somewhat forgettable, which is possibly because the music tends to support rather than hold strength on its own.

The set is interesting with two levels, one of which houses the band and the other which is the main stage. Clever use of lighting and sliding set pieces set the tone of the different numbers and allow the audience to travel with Cathy and Jamie on their journey.

At times joyful and comedic, at others poignant, this production is worth the visit and is now extended until 3 December 2016,

Photographs Scott Rylander

FRIDAY 28 OCTOBER – SATURDAY 3 DECEMBER 2016

ST. JAMES THEATRE

12 Palace Street, London, SW1E 5JA

Performances: Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm

Tickets: £10.00 - £59.50

 

Box Office: www.stjamestheatre.co.uk | 0844 264 2140

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