REVIEW: ★★★ The Last Five Years, Vaudeville Theatre

A tale of two young people falling in and out of love…one story told from the beginning, another from the end, meeting briefly in the middle. A creative concept, from the mind of Jason Robert Brown, igniting intrigue from the start – showing a stark contrast as Cathy (Molly Lynch) begins her tale heartbroken, while Jamie (Oli Higginson), elated and star-struck by his new-found love.

It’s clear from the beginning that Lynch and Higginson are a truly talented duo – both taking turns to play the grand piano, singing their version of the story, and backed by a five-piece band. Jonathan O’Boyle’s direction ensures that the transitions are smooth and seamless, working alongside the revolve stage. Accompanied by excellent lighting design from Jamie Platt, it pulls the whole production together nicely. It’s visually engaging, helping set the tone and maintain the fast-paced storytelling.

Jamie (Higginson), is an arrogant novel writer, and tends to get the more entertaining songs in the piece. This could be because if he’s not enthused by the early stages of their relationship, he’s on a career high. One highlight is ‘The Schmuel Song’, where he mansplains his metaphor about grasping the moment and pursuing your dreams through a story of a Jewish tailor being given the gift of endless time to finish an exquisite dress. Higginson plays around with different characters throughout this, which keeps up the comedic momentum.

Meanwhile, Cathy tends to be given a lot of the mopey ballads, which is a shame because it’s clear that Lynch has a real range and can offer so much more. We see a glimpse of this in ‘A Summer in Ohio’ and ‘I Can Do Better Than That’.

Tonally, this is a really interesting musical, telling the story of two people experiencing different versions of love and heartbreak, and clashing over career highs and lows. My main criticism of the piece is that the songs aren’t particularly catchy, and feel unbalanced, with Jamie getting the more exciting ‘go get ’em’ songs, and Cathy ending up with the more dreary numbers. Nevertheless, they are both very endearing characters, and their final song together ‘Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You’ is beautifully heartbreaking.

An engaging story of a five year relationship told from different perspectives, but with an unmemorable score.

Tess Kennedy
Tess Kennedy

Tess Kennedy moved to London to be closer to her first love: theatre. It’s just a coincidence that she’s also now much closer to her second love, Idris Elba. During the week, Tess is a Social Media Manager, but in her spare time she enjoys reading, singing, yoga, pina coladas — although she can take or leave getting caught in the rain. Tess has been writing for Upper Circle since January 2019, where she’s seen more Fringe than Jonathan Van Ness, as well as plenty of one-woman-shows and musicals. Although she’s a big fan of the musical genre, Tess draws the line at Cats. That’s not because she’s a dog person though – Tess loves her family cats more than most humans – it’s because the visual of Idris Elba meowing in a skintight leotard gave her paws for thought.


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