note: entire contents copyright 2015 by Richard Pacheco
“The Last Five Years” at Ocean State Theatre, the directorial debut of Joel Kipper is a good concept gone wry. It is Jason Robert Brown’s unconventional look at the break up of a marriage, inspired by the break up of his marriage. It is told by the couple, each telling the tale in opposite directions, her from the end to the start and he from start to finish.
One of the major problems with the show is it gets confusing about who is where. Brown is a three time Tony Award winner but this show does not show off his strengths at all. The music is without variety and a bit monotonous for the 90 minutes, with the emphasis on jazz and through composed, meaning there is no dialogue (aright precious little) dialogue through out to hold it together and give us the relationship between the characters.
The two characters tell their tales with little interaction, the only spot is a song about their wedding, and it leaves you with two separate stories which can often be difficult to untangle and characters about who it is difficult to care. When it played in New York, it only ran from March to May Off Broadway in 2002.
One of the songs, “The Schmuel Song” about a Jewish tailor is totally unnecessary and adds nothing to the story. Whatever flow it might have is disrupted by the intermission. It could be missing with no loss at all.
So much of their tale is nebulous and vague, You learn that he gets somewhat famous and she gets jealous and he ends up cheating on her. They may or may not have had a child together as it is difficult to tell. Nothing is substantial or lingering in the memory. The premise of the show is established in the first scene, but we do not get toe learn much about them in detail, it is all vague, somewhat nebulous as their marriage disintegrates.
Neither actor is an overly impressive singer. Alyssa Gorgone as Cathy at time has trouble with pitch. David Demato as Jaime often bellows and bullies his way through songs.
Alyssa Gorgone plays Cathy, the wife. She is an aspiring actress whose career is best by many difficulties while her husband’s seems to take off from day one to ever greater heights. She is at times uncertain and lacks self confidence, but at first certain she ill love him forever. After all, who goes into a marriage with the intent of divorce? She constantly battles the demands of an acting career, with its endless disappointments and frustrations with his ever building success as a writer, reaching higher and higher levels in society. She starts with resentment aimed at Jaime and it seethes and grows constantly, destroying whatever they once had. She has energy, but often strains for pitch.
David Demato is Jaime, her Jewish husband. He is infatuated by his wife from the first moment. He is also infatuated with his ever growing career which starts to soar from the first moment. It creates conflicts in the marriage and puts him in temptation’s way as his writing reputation grows and his wife’s resentment and jealousy grows at an equal rate. He ends up being massively disenchanted and ready to love on by packing what he owns into a box and leaving, tired of the life they now share from the glowing romance brimming with hope he believed they once had. With many songs he bellows, yet he manges to maintain some degree of charm as the ever successful Jaime.
Director Joel Kipper tires to keep the pacing on the mark, but the musical presents some insurmountable difficulties for him or any director. One of the most difficult is the characters we don’t care about very much anymore than the tale of strangers on a plane in passing. The production is disappointing on so many levels.
Kimberly Powers set design has an innate charm and flair which is a definite plus. The look is excellent and endearing.