REVIEW ROUND-UP: The Last Five Years at Southwark Playhouse

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We round up the reviews for Jonathan O’Boyle’s production now playing at the Southwark Playhouse.

The Independent: ★★★★ “O’Boyle extracts a seam of melancholy from the piece which undercuts even the most ebullient numbers – there’s a pearly beauty to the golden days of their early courtship. After all, relationships are filled with ghostliness, even when you’re in them – that creeping, niggling sense that you will never fully understand the other person, the feeling of a partner morphing out of a familiar shape into something unrecognisable.”

The Telegraph: ★★★ “This exceptionally fine staging of Jason Robert Brown’s insightful, emotion-rich and ingenious musical portrait of a relationship – from first flowering to final withering, five years on – last appeared in circumstances that now seem Edenic.”

The Upcoming: ★★★ “Despite strong performances, cast chemistry and convincing musical numbers, the necessary separation of Higginson and Lynch stops the play from truly igniting and the audience doesn’t feel from the heart.”

British Theatre.com: ★★★★★ “It is important to note that as actor-musicians, Lynch and Higginson carry the story and at points the melody over the top of Dyer’s almost virtuoso performance on keys in the pit. Each have created characters who are flawed, honest and exceptionally relatable; whilst playing the tender, pulsating heart of the score with ease and flair.”

Theatre Cat:Molly Lynch is honey-voiced, expressive, touching and enraging both: Oli Higginson, devastatingly handsome, gives us all the boyish bounce and painful longings of being 23 years old, clever, and greedy for life.”

The Reviews Hub: ★★★★★ “Molly Lynch brings out Cathy’s lack of confidence and self-deprecating humour, giving strong renditions of several comic songs. Oli Higginson’s Jamie is full of nervous energy and far more intense; his frustration at Cathy’s lack of interest in his career is palpable, but he is anything bar a cad and his eventual infidelity looks to be a last resort.”

Broadway World: ★★★★ “The Last Five Years holds up as a piece that is musically, dramatically and conceptually superior to any revival I’ve seen. It begs the question of what other musicals might benefit from an actor-muso set-up such as this, and I for one would love to see more of it.”

Musical Theatre Musings: ★★★★★ “Regardless of the undoubted strengths of a creative team of over thirty, the overall success of The Last Five Years depends on the quality of its two performers. Molly Lynch and Oli Higginson were, in a word, outstanding. They were entirely believable both as individuals who might have been attracted to each other as well as revealing the flaws in their characters which might have resulted in the ultimate breakdown in their relationship.”

The Spy in the Stalls: ★★★★★ “The performances consistently manage to sweep this slight distraction away with their charisma and talent. Backed by the sheer energy of musical director George Dyer and the five-piece band, we are spellbound, and our belief in the magic of musical theatre is unquestionably reaffirmed.”

The Metro: ★★★★ “Yet while rich in feeling, Jonathan O’Boyle’s production can’t disguise a writing imbalance. Both characters are tropes, but Oli Higginson’s arrogant Jamie ticks the ego-mad man with a roving eye too neatly. Molly Lynch’s beguiling Cathy has a more engaging arc — falling backwards from hurt and anger through envy, resentment, frustration, adoration and hope.”

Time Out: “It’s a terrific production from director Jonathan O’Boyle, reuniting his two original cast members. Lynch is excellent as the more sympathetic of the pair, moving effortlessly through the gears from devastated to neurotic to intoxicatingly carefree. But Higginson almost has the hardest task: Jamie is a self-regarding idiot. Higginson conveys that, but he does so with a lusty rock star charisma that almost steamrollers your objections to the character.”

The Last Five Years continues to play at the Southwark Playhouse until 14 November 2020.

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Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.
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Emma Clarendon on FacebookEmma Clarendon on InstagramEmma Clarendon on RssEmma Clarendon on Twitter
Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.

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