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Review Roundup: THE LAST FIVE YEARS Opens at The Southwark Playhouse


See what the critics are saying about the production...

Review Roundup: THE LAST FIVE YEARS Opens at The Southwark Playhouse

The current production of The Last Five Years now playing at Southwark Playhouse until 14 November has confirmed it has been filmed and will be released worldwide over 5 days.

The show was recorded with a multi-camera set-up and will be available to watch globally to an unlimited audience on 26 and 27 November at 7.30pm, 28 November at 2.30pm and 7.30pm and 29 November at 5pm.

The production is directed by Jonathan O'Boyle and stars Molly Lynch and Oli Higginson. It is produced by Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment in association with Edward Prophet and People Entertainment Group.

See what the critics are saying about the production...

David Benedict, Variety: The production takes every opportunity to use music to flesh out the drama. In the penultimate sequence in which Jamie, downstage, rhapsodizes about his extra-marital affair, O'Boyle has Lynch at the back of set. As the music arrives at an imposing chord, Lynch lifts a mallet and powerfully strikes a tubular bell. It's as arresting an image of the two of them as characters as it is musically effective.

BP Flanagan, The Upcoming: Despite strong performances, cast chemistry and convincing musical numbers, the necessary separation of Higginson and Lynch stops the play from truly igniting and the audience doesn't feel from the heart. The Last 5 Years has a fervent fan base, but in its current coffin-bound iteration, it is difficult for the audience to appreciate it as much more than an intellectual exercise.

Ray Rackham, Whilst, admittedly, it's a little early to crown The Last Five Years as Best Musical Revival, or even (under O'Boyle's meticulously truthful imagining) Best New Musical of 2020, there will have to be a pretty special piece of theatre to topple it off its well-earned pedestal. In response to the character Cathy's statement in 'See I'm Smiling', this reviewer didn't like the show... he loved it, and thought it certainly didn't suck!

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut London: Moreover, it's a terrific production from director Jonathan O'Boyle, reuniting his two original cast members. Lynch is excellent as the more sympathetic of the pair, moving effortlessly through the gears from devastated to neurotic to intoxicatingly carefree. But Higginson almost has the hardest task: Jamie is a self-regarding idiot. Higginson conveys that, but he does so with a lusty rock star charisma that almost steamrollers your objections to the character. Wordy and often eloquent though they are, Brown's songs work at a visceral level that seems bigger than the characters: a small group of musicians under the eye of musical director George Dyer hammer out orchestral washes interspersed with occasional bowls of electric guitar, or in one memorable scene, a huge chime, hammered by Lynch.

Stephen Bates, The Reviews Hub: ome could view the shortage of direct interaction between the two characters as the show's weakness, but Brown's intention is to illustrate the universally recognisable dichotomy of lives being lived together and, in parallel, apart. In O'Boyle' production, Cathy and Jamie sing to someone who is not actually there, but always hovering in the background. They appear bound together uneasily inside a fragile bubble, but the truth is that they are, in similar fashion to those of us watching them, encased in separate perspex boxes.

Ava Wong Davies, The Independent: O'Boyle's schtick is to have both performers onstage at all times, having one accompany the other on the piano. It's an ostensibly simple trick, but one which pays dividends. O'Boyle extracts a seam of melancholy from the piece which undercuts even the most ebullient numbers - there's a pearly beauty to the golden days of their early courtship. After all, relationships are filled with ghostliness, even when you're in them - that creeping, niggling sense that you will never fully understand the other person, the feeling of a partner morphing out of a familiar shape into something unrecognisable.

Claire Allfree, Metro U.K: It's a neat idea and allows the pathos of optimism to intermingle with the pain of disillusionment, while exposing the extent to which both partners were on different paths all along. Yet while rich in feeling, Jonathan O'Boyle's production can't disguise a writing imbalance. Both characters are tropes, but Oli Higginson's arrogant Jamie ticks the ego-mad man with a roving eye too neatly. Molly Lynch's beguiling Cathy has a more engaging arc - falling backwards from hurt and anger through envy, resentment, frustration, adoration and hope.

Matt Wolf, Maybe it's just our current thirst for theatre in whatever form, or perhaps the performers feel a renewed sense of occasion in simply being able to take to a stage when so many of their colleagues remain out of work. Whatever the reason, the production this time around possesses a newfound emotional amplitude that is something to behold. "Everybody bleeds," Oli Higginson's Jamie Wellerstein remarks late in a piece that tells his story forward even as that of his eventually discarded spouse, Cathy Hiatt, is told backwards, from its wounded finish through to the eager and avid beginning of a romance that across the five years of the title has gone seriously sour.

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