There was a palpable sense of anticipation entering the intimate confines of the Blue Orange Theatre for Night Project Theatre's performance of The Last 5 Years. Playing in the Birmingham space for just one night, the show embarks on a short tour for the rest of the week.
Originally premiering in 2001, Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years is blisteringly poignant. Tracing the 5-year relationship between Jamie and Cathy, the audience were instantly sucked into their world. Whilst Cathy moves backward in time to the beginning of the relationship, Jamie hurtles towards the end, with just one touching moment where they meet on their wedding day.
The somewhat claustrophobic staging reflected the intensity of the relationship, between the unwavering love and the fraught silences, plus the touches of atmospheric lighting (Chris Lamb) framed some poignant moments.
The show is a lot to ask of two people. It's a rollercoaster of emotions and it is left to Guy Houston (Jamie) and Jenne Rhys Williams (Cathy) to lead the way and bring the audience into their world.
On the whole this was achieved, through believable performances that highlighted the various emotions and events experienced within their relationship.
A slightly nervy start quickly dissipated and Houston made for a superb Jamie. With particular highlights being the delightful Schmuel Song and Nobody Needs To Know. His charismatic stage presence held your attention and although there were some moments when he could have projected a little more, these are small gripes that will certainly clear up as the week goes on.
Williams's Cathy was sweet, although it felt at times she doubted she could hit the bigger notes in the song, there were moments where it was clear she had the range. This is again something that is likely to settle after the nerves of opening night. Her interpretation of Climbing Uphill was hilarious and incredibly well acted and both Houston and Williams captured the ups and downs of a relationship beautifully.
With excellent support from a quaint 2 piece band (Chris Corcoran and Sunim Koria) and clever direction from Ian Page, Night Project Theatre continue to challenge themselves and bring new and lesser performed musicals to the Midlands.
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