Musical Review









Jamie Hendry Productions presents

The Last Five Years




by Jason Robert Brown

Directed by Amelia Sears

 Duchess Theatre

6 - 10 May 2009








A review by Peter Carrington for EXTRA! EXTRA!


The Last Five years charts the relationship of Cathy (played by Julie Atherton) and Jamie, (Paul Spicer) from before they met to long after they have parted ways.  What makes the journey compelling is the way the story is told from each of their viewpoints, Jamie's travelling forward in time and Cathy’s travelling backwards.  This varying viewpoint allows for the rainbow of emotions within their relationship to be viewed from multiple angles and with equal bias from both sides.  Their story is told entirely in song, passionately highlighting all the differing parts of the relationship.  In one swift, relentless act we are taken on the rollercoaster that is the last five years the couple spent together.

The cast of two is well chosen, talented and compelling in their both their performances and abilities.  Julie Atherton is impressively accomplished as Cathy, the budding actress; her singing talent, acting and comedic timing is perfectly pitched to her part.  Paul Spicer is equally compelling as Jamie, the writer, belting out the rocking numbers of the show, similarly giving his all to the range and depth of his character.  What is perhaps most impressive is that despite the fact that the two performers only directly interact once on stage together they have palpable chemistry within their songs which helps add weight to the drama.

The set is simple yet effective, providing a sense of passing time, through the use of subtle lighting.  David Howe's lighting design is able to convey intimacy within the space, often using light crossing the stage from the wings. The music, composed by the show’s author Jason Robert Brown blends pop, folk and jazz numbers, incorporating them into the story very well.  The only possible criticism would be that there is no anthem to leave the theatre humming. 

Conversely, one leaves the theatre with a heart heavy with the weight of sympathy for the characters one has seen on stage. Perhaps this is because this musical is almost operatic in its portrayal, allowing its music to bring the story’s strong emotions out and, it seems quite natural for it to do so.

This production of The Last Five Years is a compelling ride on the rollercoaster that is romance, tugging heartstrings as skilfully as its talented performers play and sing.


£30.00, £20.00, £10.00
Both Show Season Ticket £50.00

Groups 8+ £22.50

Duchess Theatre
 Catherine Street, London WC2

Box Office: 0844 811 0052 (24 hrs)