The Last Five Years offers moments both funny and sad in the tale of a relationship’s arc.
By Kay Kipling
Until last night, I hadn’t been to a show at the East Village Cabaret—not for lack of desire, but for lack of time. Now that I’ve been, I hope to return, for this cozy little Lakewood Ranch venue (perhaps 60 seats), where you can sip wine at a table or relax on a sofa while watching a cabaret performance, gives off a good vibe.
It’s also perfect for the show I saw, The Last Five Years. This musical by Jason Robert Brown is small in scale and intimate in tone and requires a minimum of props and virtually no set decor, just some costume changes, to help tell its story of a relationship over five years of time. The way Brown has chosen to tell it is this: Cathy, a struggling actress, tells her story in songs and scenes that begin at the end of the relationship, and Jamie, a young novelist whose success begins to tear them apart, tells his from the beginning. They meet in the middle at one point, for a wedding duet.
The songs mostly have a sort of rock/pop flair, and they range from sad to angry to very funny, as when Cathy faces audition tribulations or Jamie expresses how his Jewish family is going to have problems with his new shiksa girlfriend. It’s only 80 minutes long (no intermission), but the show packs in a lot of the emotions any romantic duo might feel, while at the same time we get to know these two people as distinct individuals.
The night I attended the show, the roles were performed by Berry Ayers and Katherine Tanner, both of whom delivered their numbers with power and passion. Well-known local actors Steve and Dianne Dawson play the roles on alternating nights; look to backlotarts.com for a complete schedule and ticket information, or call 373-3933.