The Last 5 Years Review

Garrick Theatre – until 17 October2021

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Jason Robert Brown’s musical chronicle of a failed relationship never fails to delight, and in the hands of director Jonathan O’Boyle moving from the intimacy of Southwark Playhouse to the wide expanse of the Garrick Stage has somehow intensified the emotional rush of the show.

Ambitious writer Jamie (Oli Higginson) and Cathy (Molly Lynch), an aspiring actress, meet in New York, fall in love, get married and break up. Jamie’s meteoric rise to fame and Cathy’s struggle to land an acting job while she deals with her conflicted feelings about enjoying his fame and finding her own purpose in life lead to jealousy and arguments – which would probably make a decent musical. But Jason Robert Brown makes things more interesting by showing the couple’s five-year relationship in opposite trajectories. Cathy begins the show at the end of their relationship, with Molly Lynch’s heart-breaking rendition of Still Hurting, while Jamie’s side of the relationship begins when they first meet.

The action takes place around, and on, a revolving piano, with giant L5Y illuminated lettering separating the band from the action. The lighting changes for each character at different stages of the relationship – providing another layer to the emotional hit of the lyrics. Lee Newby and Jamie Platt’s set and lighting design adds so much in such a subtle, intuitive way to the storytelling.

The actor/musicians are simply incredible. Higginson and Lynch are vocal magicians, exude charisma and have amazing chemistry, even though they don’t physically interact until the gorgeous numbers in the middle of the show – their wedding. They both nail the comedic numbers, bursting with the energy and excitement of a new relationship. The songs near the end of the relationship are where they both shine – with Jamie’s cockiness finally fading to show the conflict and empathy inside as Higginson will make you sob through Nobody Needs To Know. The final number, contrasting Cathy’s joy and excitement with Jamie’s sad acceptance that they were never meant to be ends the show with an emotional rush that will make you long for more.

I think I would probably pay to watch Oli Higginson and Molly Lynch sing fast food menus at each other, but they are phenomenal in The Last 5 Years. We are so lucky to have another chance to see this cast perform this wonderful show in the West End – don’t miss it.