BWW Review: THE LAST FIVE YEARS - Great Performances, Underwhelming Show
Vic Theatre Company has had a very auspicious beginning, staging the award winning Loving Repeating, the hilarious 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and now the joint billing of Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years and Jenkins and Hannagan's Australian musical The Gathering. This week The Last Five Years opened with two very strong performances in this two handed musical tracking the five year relationship of Jamie and Cathy. The musical starts at the beginning of the relationship for Jamie and the end for Cathy and crosses over with their wedding in the middle of the 80 minute one act piece. Often seen as a breakout work for Brown and a worthy member of the contemporary musical theatre canon, the piece itself was somewhat flat and underwhelming. That's not to say the performances were in any way, far from it. However, as a whole, Jason Robert Brown's score isn't particularly vibrate or clever within the context of his show. There are of course moments of brilliance, however, these moments are few and too far between.
There are some significant highlights in this production of The Last Five Years. Vocally both Josh Piterman (Jamie) and Verity Hunt-Ballad (Cathy) deliver in spades. This particularly tricky score is manoeuvred effortlessly by both performers and is a real aural treat. Hunt-Ballad's listening skills are exemplary as are her reactions to the unravelling of her relationship. Her rendition of I'm A Part of That is beautifully and simplistically delivered, while Piterman's final moments of the show from 'If I Didn't Believe in You' through to Nobody Needs To Know really hit the mark. Daniel Harvey's economically clever set design is wonderfully manipulated by director Chris Parker to bring inner city New York living to life. Finally, the orchestra under Musical Director Daniel Puckey are sublime, with the strings soaring throughout the performance.
So while this production had all the individual ingredients to really work, there was a missing element that really left it from being wow. I don't think it's this production that can be blamed for the missing ingredient, more so, it's the piece itself which doesn't quite hit the mark and leaves a sort of underwhelming unsatisfying feel at its conclusion. The Last Five Years will appeal to anyone that loves theatre and is a must see for any young performer to learn from two first class performers who exquisitely tackle some very real and some very technically challenging material.
The Last Five Years
45 Flinders Lane Melbourne
Until December 11
Photography: James Terry