The relatable, delicate musical story of Jamie and Cathy from Tony Award-winning playwright Jason Robert Brown is given the La Boite treatment by Director Darren Yap and cast members Danielle Remulta and Robert Tripolino.
In Director Darren Yap's programme notes, he says of the show 'you can be with someone in absolute intimacy but feel like they are a complete stranger at the same time'. This idea is reflected throughout 'The Last Five Years' in many ways. The story involves two people who have fallen out of love with each other. We watch on as Jamie takes us through their story from the beginning, forwards, and Cathy from the end, backwards.
The staging (a shout-out is certainly in order for Set Designer Chloe Greaves for a wonderfully dynamic set) amplifies their separation and distance – as one appears at the top of a staircase, the other on the stage, each giving the audience their perspective. Then, one might be slumped, sitting on a bed toward the front, while the other is spritely, standing upstage. It's most painful when the two cross each other physically, but particularly at their wedding – their one and only actual meeting point in the show. The audience knows the eventual fate of these two people, so to watch them express themselves, whether it's the giddy, swooning first moments of love or the broken-down aftermath of the break-up, is heart-wrenching.
The pair have excellent chemistry in the few times they interact – but the chemistry goes beyond direct communication and extends to the ways in which each of them respond to their individual scenarios regarding the relationship.
Image © Morgan Roberts
The music is simple yet effective, and credit must be given to Musical Director James Dobinson, for the ability to evoke all kinds of feelings with only a handful of musicians to work with and to carry the performance.
Each actor delivers an enchanting vocal performance, with highlights including Cathy's 'Still Hurting' and Jamie and Cathy's final performance, 'Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You'. They are great vocalists on their own and, when singing together, expand their feelings – and encapsulate their ill-fated love story – further.
While the source material feels as though it may be lacking slightly in depth, everyone involved in the La Boite production of 'The Last Five Years' stepped up to the plate to deliver an enjoyable final product which thrives in its technical elements. The musicians and cast members worked together in beautiful harmony to embody a touching story, and the dynamic set meant Danielle and Robert were able to use the space between them to further the emotion.
★★★★☆ ‘The Last Five Years’ is on at La Boite Theatre (Brisbane) until 18 June.