The Last Five Years
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Charles Jarrett

The power and poignancy of Playhouse Westís Northern California premiere of The Last Five Years is perhaps best expressed in the words of one of the musicalís songs: ďI could never rescue you. All I could do is love you hard and let you go.Ē

Jamie sings the words to his lost love Cathy, in this musical written by Jason Robert Brown, and the words echo what all of us who have loved and lost have felt. The words, combined with the music, produces a surreal, haunting quality that is at once a shout of rage, a prayer and the final drops of love fallen like descending notes on an unbalanced scale.

Added to the words and music are the subtle facial expressions and gestures of Alison Ewing (Cathy) and Jeff Leibow (Jamie) which flow like water through the fiery relationship at the center of this drama. Director and choreographer Lois Grandi punctuates the poignancy of these words and gestures with splashes of color in the form of movement and dance. And musical director Brandon Adamsí orchestra breathes through the entire production like a breeze blowing through the open spaces in Cathy and Jamieís love relationship. Pay particular attention to the violin and cello, which seem closely tied to the two loversí heartstrings.

Adding to the beauty of this drama is the way itís told. Cathy tells the story in reverse while Jamie tells it chronologically. The songs alternate from Cathy to Jamie with one character remaining in shadow while the other is in light. Only in the middle of their drama do the two touch and sing together in the light, echoing the haunting, shadowy reality of most relationships.

For tickets or more information call the Walnut Creek theatre at (925) 943-7469 or visit www.playhousewest.org.

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