Saturday, September 02, 2006

You and you and nothing but you, miles and piles of you.

Apologies for the week long delay in getting this review up but I need to start by saying that dear sweet Jesus I loved every minute of it. It is of course the UK premiere run of The Last Five Years currently playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London.

I have been listening to and loving the OCR for a little while now and I have to say I was intrigued to see how it would be staged. The answer was simply and fluidly. A revolve, minimal props and judicious use of screens meant that the 85 minutes were entirely uninterrupted. The marriage bed on which Cathy is lying when the show opens doubles as the pier and a boat throughout the show which I personally thought was a nice touch.

But this show lives and dies on its direction and performances. The direction was unintrusive and understated. The performances blew the OCR out of the water. I didn't expect that to happen and was absolutely taken aback by it. Damian Humbley was glorious as Jamie, great voice, he really acted the songs too, getting the humour where necessary and when it came down to it, he caught the duality of "If I Didn't Believe In You" perfectly. See with that number, I always start off thinking "ah, he loves her so" and by the end I'm like "wow, you're a cunt". And his performance of "Song Of Schmuel" made me cry. Gorgeous.

The real star though is Lara Pulver as Cathy. No offence to the very beautiful and very talented Sherie Rene Scott, but there's something about her performance that's so polished. Which is fine but doesn't quite work for a jobbing actress who can't get anything better than summer stock in Ohio. So someone who is a little plainer and has a voice every bit as powerful but with a real raw edge to it really works. She was, in a word, astonishing. It's only on for another 4 weeks and I really want to see it again. Did I mention that I loved it?

1 comment:

Eric said...

I'm so glad you liked it.
I LOVE "If I Didn't Believe in You." When I got to perform the role, I didn't know what I would do with the character of Jamie. Having seen the show and listened to the recording, I could only think that Jamie is, above all, a self-centered asshole (I should have empathized with that!). Then I began to delve into the songs. "Schmuel," while interminably long in performance, is an acting joy to perform because I fully understood Jamie and his motivations then. He loved to write and tell stories...but he truly loves this woman, too.
And that's readily apparent in "...Believe..." I think it's THE pivotal song in the show, it clearly highlights his growing frustration with his wife's "stuck" syndrome and, I believe, the moment where he DOES give up on the marriage (she's accused him of it but I think he hasn't yet done anything...until that song).
I'm so glad you liked the show, especially the direction, since I thought Daisy Prince was a bit plodding or, in some cases, just clueless about what to do.