A couple meets, marries and grows apart. It is a familiar tale, but told in a new and exciting way: her story starts at the end of the relationship and his begins the day they first met! The Last Five Years proves that even when a love affair is over, it's glow lingers on.
The Last Five Years is a musical with only two characters, and the inherent intimacy of that makes experiencing it all the more intense. Beyond the lure of the music, what originally drew me to the piece was its love story about two young, creative people both trying to make it big in the pressure cooker of New York City. But where many musicals feature the rise and fall of a love affair as their main plot, what is so different about The Last Five Years is the way it tells its tale.
At the top of the show, we meet Cathy when she's at the end of her marriage to Jamie, but we simultaneously encounter him five years earlier, on the night of their first date. As she moves backwards in time and he moves forwards, we get to see the bitter and the sweet sides of their romance play out side by side. The result is a series of stunning snapshots - not of their relationship's arc, but of each small, almost ordinary moment when things could have turned out differently, either for better or worse.
What consistently kept me intrigued with this piece is the fact that nothing about it is cliché. It is a deceptively deep exploration of the joyous and difficult terrain of connecting with another human being. Brown recognizes the fragmented nature of human lives, and the fact that all too often we are out of step with one another. The Last Five Years takes us on a vibrant journey - one that is by turns heartrending, joyful, painful, and exhilarating, but always completely and utterly human.