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Review: The Last Five Years

The perfect show for a last date

St James Theatre

    In many ways Cathy and Jamie are opposites. He's a nice Jewish boy, she's an all-American-gentile girl. She's a struggling actor, he's a successful writer. But in this musical, first seen in 2001, American composer Jason Robert Brown accentuates the differences by telling the story of their relationship - inspired by Brown's own failed first marriage - from two opposing perspectives.

    During this intertwined engrossing song-cycle Jamie tells his version of the past five years from the optimistic beginning, starting with one of the wittiest songs you will ever hear about forbidden love, Shiksa Goddess. Cathy, however, relates hers in reverse order, starting with the bitter end. The two meet in happy union just once as they swap wedding vows.

    Much of the music is soft rock in style but the lyrics and melodies are as sharp as tacks carrying the protagonists - and us -through the emotional spectrum.

    Directed by the extremely talented composer, Brown himself, Samantha Barks and Jonathan Bailey are a fine match. Crucially they act as well as they sing. This is the perfect show for a last date

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