Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Last Five Years"

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note: entire contents copyleft 2003 by Will Stackman


Minority Report on "THE LAST FIVE YEARS"
at BCA Theatre

Reviewed by Will Stackman

     Upon consideration, the biggest problem with "The Last Five Years" is that it's hard to imagine that two such self-absorbed people stayed together that long. The fact that the show is more or less two intersecting song-cycles doesn't help. All that director Eric Engel and two hardworking singers, Talley Sessions as Jamie and Becca Ayers as Kathie can do is keep things moving along. Ayers has the harder task, since effectively Kathie starts at the climax, the dissolution of her marriage, and works backwards through the show, without all that much help from Jason Robert Brown's repetitive score. Her best number is the interior monologue which eventually replaces her vapid audition piece. And if Brown as the show's author as well was trying to express some mea culpa in the character of Jamie, he's given Sessions a rather unlikable guy to work with. As a rule, musical theatre gets the audience to care about through emotions conveyed when a character just has to sing. Here, since the two almost never stop singing, the uplift that comes when someone bursts into song is used up in the first ten minutes.
     The show is so well done however that one might wish these talented folks had more substantial material to work with. Music directors Katz and Delgado make the BCA shimmer with a combination of keyboards and strings, though the sound technician has the almost impossible job of mixing their backstage efforts with the amplified voices onstage. How well this works depends on where you sit in the low-ceilinged BCA basement, though. Susan Zeeman Rogers set is elegant, but except for the turntable, a bit irrelevant. Ayers has to do too much bench moving in the dark and needs a better way to get on and off stage than an afterthought corner escape in the dark. The concept of the show is intriguing enough so that the combination of a small cast, a minimal musical ensemble, simple set requirements, and a Tony-winning author will probably keep "The Last Five Years" on the boards for the foreseeable future. But maybe he and the musical theatre can move on past this one-note effort.


"THE LAST FIVE YEARS"
BCA Theatre
539 Tremont St. Boston
(617) 426 - 2797


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