“Take a breath, take a step, take a chance” declares Jared Troilo as “Jamie” in the Lyric Stage’s production of The Last Five Years. Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown and directed by Leigh Barret in this musical drama. Now playing until Dec. 12th, 2021 at Lyrics Stage Company of Boston.
This play tells the story of a couple who fell in and out of love over the course of five years. Interestingly enough, the leading characters are played by real life husband and wife team Jared (Jamie) and Kira (Cathy) Troilo—who have known each other since grade school. The narrative is told paradoxically as “Cathy” recounts her journey looking back on what happened, whereas “Jamie” accounts for his version looking forward, which in itself can be a metaphor for how some of us choose to navigate our lives, living in the past or mindfully living for the present.
“In The Last Five Years, Cathy is lamenting an ending, while Jamie is celebrating a beginning.” Explains Lyric Stage executive and artistic directors Matt Chapuran and Courtney O’Connor. They relate this story to our immanent reality seemingly entombed in sociopolitical and public health crises in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This certainly feels like all of us right now: peering out into the world once again [after COVID lockdowns] eager to embrace the best…of the future, but doing so with the knowledge of our past shortcomings…”
Whether it’s navigating the world as it shifts around us, or navigating our personal lives as we fall in and out of love with our prospective companions, Last Five Years can be interpreted as a symbol of contemplation for what makes things go right as well as what makes them go abysmally wrong. It does so while utilizing simple staging with discernible pulchritude akin to the sparkly newness often at the onset of most romantic relationships. The singing was at times ethereal, particularly from Cathy at her most agonizing moments and a permeation of tender melancholia was present towards the end encompassing both characters which was rendered quite effectively in their heartfelt singing. The spinning of the stage could serve to symbolize how life can spin and shift at any moment and we have the opportunity to see it from a different perspective.
Much like life, director Leigh Barret describes the play as “…a beautiful complicated mess.” It proffers us the opportunity to learn something about the way we communicate or miscommunicate, perceive or misperceive each other which can lead to misunderstandings that can result in permanently damaged or ultimately severed relationships, romantic or otherwise. It puts forth the idea that in any relationship, we have a chance to make “…discoveries about communication, awareness, acknowledgement, and the value of grace… [or forgiveness]” according to Barret. This I see as an effective methodology to move forward rather than backwards while navigating life’s turntable of joys and woes.
If you have a penchant for musicals and are also a romantic, or paradoxically if you’re a skeptic of both, then this terrific little slice of life just might sing its way into your heart and change your mind.
Jacques Fleury’s book Sparks in the Dark: A Lighter Shade of Blue, A Poetic Memoir about life in Haiti & America was featured in the Boston Globe. It’s Always Sunrise Somewhere and Other Stories is a collection of short fictional stories spanning the pervasive human condition. Their topics range from politics to romantics, from sex to spirituality, from religion to dissension. His latest book, Chain Letter to America: The One Thing You Can Do to End Racism, is available at the Harvard Book Store and world wide online. His CD A Lighter Shade of Blue as a lyrics writer with neo-folk group Sweet Wednesday is available on ITunes and Spotify. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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