The Last Five Years -- Time Reversal
By Karen Isaacs
Jason Robert Brown -- the composer, lyricist and book writer for The Last Five Years which is now at Long Wharf -- is one of the most promising in the younger generation of Broadway writers.
The Last Five Years opened in 2001 and was named as one of the best shows of the year. Since then, he has continued to create interesting musicals. His current effort, The Bridges of Madison County, has won praise for its score.
In The Last Five Years we learn about the relationship of Joe and Cathy. Both are young and creative. Joe wants to be writer and Cathy a performer. Their relationship lasts just five years from meeting to separation and divorce.
What makes this musical different is how the story is told. When the show begins, Cathy is reading the letter Joe has left for explaining that he is leaving. In just minutes in this mostly sung musical, we see Joe -- but he is just meeting Cathy and falling in love with her.
That's right -- Cathy tells the story of their relationship from ending to beginning. Joe tells the story from beginning to ending.
The songs of each reflect where they are in the relationship and in their lives -- from just meeting, to getting to know each other, an engagement, wedding, and then the difficulties of married life. The only time they are in the same place and time is at their wedding.
Their lives are equally different -- Joe finds success as novelist early on when he book is published to acclaim; Cathy struggles to make find jobs in the theater -- auditioning numerous times, working in far off summer theater.
Katie Rose Clarke and Adam Halpin are Cathy and Joe. Each brings a beautiful voice and strong acting skills to their roles. Gordon Edelstein has directed this with intelligence and sensitivity.
The Last Five Years is an enjoyable evening in the theater. It is at Long Wharf through June 1.
This review aired on WNHU-fm, 88.7 and www.wnhu.net