20th June 2022
As more and more companies explore the idea of online theatre, Lambert Jackson Productions have decided to put on an online production of Jason Robert Brown‘s musical The Last Five Years. The Last Five Years tells the story of Jamie and Cathy and the five years running up to their break up but in an unconventional way. Cathy tells the story from the end whilst Jamie tells the story chronologically from the beginning.
Jason Robert Brown’s score is outstanding. This is one of the best written musicals out there, with two quite complex characters when portrayed well. In my opinion, the show doesn’t get the credit it deserves. The storytelling is innovative and this makes almost all productions of the show somewhat innovative as well. It is quite impressive to get audiences to understand the characters and their relationship despite them never actually interacting on stage, apart from in 2 scenes.
This particular online production marks Lauren Samuels’ directorial debut. She has done a terrific job in bringing this musical to life. Sometimes it can be difficult to work out the timings in the show but Samuels’ choice to include text message exchanges on screen helps to give a clearer sense of time. Great effort was put into ‘sets’ (places in the performers’ homes) and costuming. The scene in the middle where the characters interact was brilliantly put together, despite the performers being completely separate. The show feels completely fresh as well which is no mean feat considering there already has been a filmed version of the musical.
Lauren Samuels takes on the role of Cathy in this production, a role she has played on stage several years ago. Her performance is excellent. Her vocals are brilliant and her change in emotion throughout is portrayed brilliantly. It feels completely natural and it never feels jarring from song to song.
Danny Becker plays Jamie and this is one of his first leading roles professionally. He seems very experienced though as his performance is brilliant. His vocals are gorgeous to listen to and he brings the character to life very well, making him quite likeable and relatable, whilst still flawed. The brilliance in both performances help to invest you in the characters and their relationship. However because you know the relationship doesn’t work out, you don’t feel completely invested in either character.
Lambert Jackson Productions’ version of The Last Five Years is a great version of the musical and a great attempt to keep theatre alive in this time when theatres can’t be open for live performances. Hopefully this will be the first of many creative attempts to keep theatre alive and keep actors working.
The Last Five Years can be watched nightly until 27th June 2020. Tickets are available from The Other Palace website for just £8.