All words: The Theatre Gay
In the past few weeks, I’ve watched several of my close friends break up, end it, or storm out on their significant others. Hell, even my booty call on the regular decided it was time to drop me. Due to this incredibly serendipitous event, we’ve all been nursing our wounds with alcohol, and deep-dish pan pizzas from Dominos. Being the single friend in all this affords me a level of clarity to these human beings that have started and ended something; a clarity that struck me hard when I saw “The Last 5 Years” at Signature Theatre this past weekend.
“The Last 5 Years” chronicles the relationship between Jamie (James Gardiner), a newly successful novelist, and Cathy (Erin Weaver), a struggling actress. A series of songs, and catches of text outlines the memories they have of the relationship, but they only share the stage once. This is because Kathy is remembering the relationship from the end to the beginning, whereas Jamie is going through from beginning to end. The only time they are together is when Jamie proposes to Cathy in Central Park. The songs go back and forth from a hurt ballad to an optimistic upbeat melody, and as the play progresses the characters switch emotional ‘locations.’
Erin Weaver is amazing. Her journey from a hurt and jaded divorcee to a chipper college graduate is intoxicating to watch. And she never falters in the music. Some of her most difficult songs arrive in the second half of the show, after she has already been singing for quite some time. James Gardiner also brings a level of seriousness to the goofy Jamie, which is what the play needs. Daniel Conway’s set gives these two a lot to play with, and is also just really beautiful. I give this artistic team serious props for putting this show together in such a short time. Theatre devotees recall that “Last 5 Years” was not on Signature’s season initially. Their “Plan A” was to do “Crimes of the Heart,” but when two of the four cast members dropped out, Aaron Posner (director) proposed this production, with a very limited rehearsal schedule. Regardless, I bet this will be much more popular.
My only complaint with the show is the relationship between Jamie and Cathy. It just doesn’t seem to be there. It’s awesome listening to these amazing songs detailing their love lives, but the two didn’t seem like they were in sync somehow. Maybe this lack of specificity is something Mr. Posner wanted us to see, that Cathy and Jamie didn’t love each other, but an idea of the other. Maybe we only always love the idea rather than the person. DEEP THOUGHTS.
Regardless, this is a great show to watch. Both Weaver and Gardiner are accomplished talented actors, and it’s refreshing to see them together. All in all, I have been very pleased by Signature’s season so far. I can’t wait to see how they close it out.