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The Last 5 Years @ Kings Arms, Salford – Review
The Last 5 Years by Jason Robert Brown @ King’s Arms, Salford
Directed by James Baker | Reviewed Saturday 12th April 2014
Leading up to this event I had seen a massive twitter build up supporting this production. I had been to several shows which marketed and linked in the with this company and its director. I also saw untold leaflets throughout Manchester. And to further promote this event (that made me book) was the rave reviews on twitter from a variety of review sites….
So here mine goes… On arrival I was invited into the small studio space which had been set up in traverse. It was a layout I am not accustomed to for musical theatre – but I felt it made good use of the space and provided for an intimate relationship with the performers. This connected nicely with the content of the musical. The ‘on stage’ musicians and musical director (Tom Chester) were visible for the whole time and were at opposing ends. I love a bit of live music and liked that the audience would be immersed in the atmosphere of the music. A nice touch!
The set was minimal and brought on by the performers as required in the form of props and small chairs. I liked the windows arranged and hanging around the space – they had different states projected on them. Some images included, the rain of the changing seasons or the night sky etc… A really nice touch to take the audience on this journey backwards/forwards through time.
When the first song began I was a little bit thrown by the volume of the musicians an the vocal of the female lead. She had a great voice but her ability to project over of a instrumental was somewhat limited, and I am not sure it was her fault. I found this a little disappointing as it meant that often I lost part of her vocal delivery and content of her lyrics.
The performers were strong in technique and had a big job to tell the whole story between the two of them. They did this through each of their songs and brought a varied delivery to each song. Emily Stubbs played Catherine. A very likeable character and a great vocal quality. She had such grief expressed in her voice and her performance – then contrasted with her journey towards moments of bliss. I can see Emily playing the lead in Ghost. Ricky Johnston played Ricky. He was less likeable (in character) – until the end when you realised he felt as she did at the beginning of the musical. A nice juxtaposition of action, a running devise throughout the whole show. Ricky had good characterisation supported by his vocal in his songs. A lot of power to his voice. However, on occasions, I felt that his physicality was sometimes a little staged and exaggerated – which jarred on me a little.
The director James Baker is getting a bit of name for himself and his production company. He is very linked in with the industry in Manchester and with all the prestigious production companies. Definitely one to watch and I shall be at the next show.
See the Assembled Junk wesbite for more info: www.assembledjunk.com