As I wrote when the full cast was first announced, “the world is hardly crying for more productions of King Lear, but if you’re going to put it on, you might as well go balls out on some amazing casting”.
It feels important to recognise what the NT (and the Old Vic) were trying to achieve, though. Queer Theatre looked “at how theatre has charted the LGBT+ experience through a series of rehearsed readings, exhibitions, talks and screenings” and if only one looked at lesbian women, two of the readings were written by women.
Following the lives of four gay couples and told predominantly in duologues, it had the slight sense of yet another version of La Ronde as established pairings disintegrate and new ones reform.
Belonging is a public debate with poncy performance chaired by Scottee. Together with a committee of prominent queers he will explore where queer people sit in our society. A boozy, loose-tongued version of Question Time with less middle aged, middle class white men. Come and mouth off on the eve of London Pride.
When The Last Five Years announced an extension of a week just after opening, it meant I was able to nab a pair of cheap tickets down the front, conveniently on the side where the shirtless scene happens, and take a friend.
Even the most moving performances are often largely removed from our day-to-day lives. But every so often you come across a piece of theatre that, whilst it may not be the objective best thing you’ve seen, encapsulates your life so well that you can’t not fall in love with it.
For those that don’t know this is a two-hander musical telling the story of a married couple from each of their own prospective. However the difference being is that each of them start from the opposite end and work their way back/forward of The Last Five Years.
I think I have to rank Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years as one of my favourite new musicals (it was first performed in 2001) as any show with such a sequence of extraordinary songs as ‘A Part Of That’, ‘The Schmuel Song’ and ‘A Summer In Ohio’ at its heart surely deserves.
Samantha Barks and Jonathan Bailey are just the latest in a line of musically exquisite, broken-hearted couples to tackle Jason Robert Brown’s song cycle. Remember Lara Pulver and Damian Humbley in the UK premiere? Here’s a pictorial timeline including them and other transatlantic pairings you may recognise.
I despair of two-handed musicals. Required to judge the personalities or take sides, you feel trapped. Nowhere more so than at The Last Five Years, in which the partners wail their issues at you in a relentless school-of-not-very-good-rock song cycle which makes you their couples therapist.
You almost wonder where this show can possibly go when the opening number is so strong, so emotive, so damn heartbreaking. Cathy is “Still Hurting” from the break-up of her relationship with Jamie and Samantha Barks is already singing the crap out of her darkest hour when we’ve barely settled in our seats
Opening with two lovers sharing a kiss, for Samantha Barks’ Cathy, an aspiring actress it is her tragic last, while for writer Jamie, played by Jonathan Bailey, it is a trepidatious first.
Due to popular demand, THE LAST FIVE YEARS, starring Samantha Barks and Jonathan Bailey, has extended its run by a week at London’s St James Theatre.
Tony Award-winning Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown will helm a new London production of his acclaimed musical The Last Five Years, playing at St. James Theatre from Friday 27 October 2016, with a press night on Wednesday 2 November at 7.00pm. Tickets are on general sale at 10.00am on Saturday 25 June.
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