The Last 5 Years

The score of this heartfelt musical is stunning. Jason Robert Brown, the composer of The Last 5 Years, is the reason there is modern musical theatre. With songs that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster and melodies that are mesmerising, The Last 5 Years is one of the best-written musicals of the 21st century. This show has just two people in the cast as it tells the tale of Jamie and Cathy’s relationship over the last five years. Frank Derrington and Jessica Barker are the stars of this production and they give a truly solid performance. The difficult vocals in these songs are mastered at times but there are moments when Derrington and Barker slightly waver with notes that would push any singer out of their comfort zone. Barker’s beautiful voice sometimes lacks the power that would take Brown’s lyrics to the emotional depth it longs to be drowned in. For example, the opening number Still Hurting, builds vocally and is often executed with huge force, but Barker instead remains singing softly in her head voice throughout, perhaps leaving the audience impressed but not bowled over. Similarly, Derrington has a warm tone to his voice that fills the theatre but occasionally nerves get in his way and notes are missed despite his best efforts. The acting is believable and a sense of love and loss certainly pulls at the heart strings. I believe there is space for more from Derrington, in particular, as he is often confined to just performing with his face and leaves his body behind except for specifically choreographed gestures or movements. Arguably, personal interpretation has brought him to a subtle approach to the character of Jamie and his emotional intention behind the role is by no means lost. As a huge fan of The Last 5 Years, I think that twosquared Productions capture the essence of the show and is supported by beautifully orchestrated music. However, Jason Robert Brown writes songs for elite vocalists that are almost impossible to find, even on Broadway. Frank Derrington and Jessica Barker are extremely good but unfortunately, elite is out of their reach. Despite this, The Last 5 Years is an enjoyable production and will certainly leave you impressed for well over five hours afterwards which, for the Fringe, is definitely two thumbs up.

The Blurb

Exploring the five-year relationship of two New Yorkers: Jamie, a successful writer and Cathy, a struggling actress. We see the couple's relationship tentatively flourish and gradually reach its demise from both character's perspectives.