|Ryan London Levin as Jamie|
(photo by Devon Cox)
The beauty of the piece is in its sparseness. It doesn't fill in all the blanks, it doesn't give us all the details. But Jason Robert Brown is so gifted in capturing the emotions of a moment in a single song, that the show is almost like a dozen little stories all woven together. You may not know everything about these characters, but you know who they are, thanks to the brilliantly written songs, and the performances in this production. This gorgeous, clever, complex score is beautifully sung by Aly and Ryan, both of whom I've been a fan of for several years. Ryan is so charming as Jamie (but even Ryan's charm cannot save Jamie from being a jerk in my eyes), full of energy, playful and passionate. Aly has a voice as clear and strong as a bell, with great control, and can convey so much emotion through her voice. The two have opposite arcs, one from naive and hopeful to mature and disappointed, and the other vice versa. Both are convincing in their journey, and their one meeting in the middle of their stories is so lovely, I wish there were more of it.
|Aly Westberg O'Keeffe as Cathy (photo by Devon Cox)|
I was introduced to the word "duologue" through Gremlin Theatre's fantastic two-hander A Steady Rain (now playing, go see it!), and it fits this piece as well. The Last Five Years is a sung duologue, with two people telling their side of the story, through song, to the audience, rarely interacting with each other. Yet through it all you get a picture of their relationship. A beautifully flawed picture.
*Plot summary borrowed from what I wrote about Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company's production a few years ago.