Review: "The Last Five Years:" Love in reverse

By Ed Huyck; Fri., Feb. 14, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years uses a novel approach to showcase the complexities of young love. The musical features two characters. We follow Jamie forward in time, while Catherine moves back. For Jamie, the first scenes are of a thrilled young man about to go on a date. For Catherine, it starts in the moments after their marriage has ended.

It can be a dastardly difficult show to pull off, but the talented duo currently in the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company production do it with seeming ease

Matt Rein plays Jamie, while Sarah Shervey brings Catherine to life. They are a New-York-City kind of couple. He is a young novelist who (somewhat implausibly) strikes it rich with his first book. She is an actor who (far more plausibly) struggles to get noticed in the big, bad city.

Through her story, we see their flailing and then failing relationship. What seems shrill at first takes on weight when we get to his version of events. As it turns out, Jamie is a cad, especially as he steps out on his wife with his assistant.

Still, they can be congenial characters. Early on, Jamie is a bright presence in Catherine's life, as he shares his dreams and gives her a push to be more active in her own career. When they finally get a moment together onstage, it turns into the play's beautiful heart. One that, of course, is fleeting.

Rein and Shevrey give solid performances on their own, carrying the weight of the missing other character in their scenes. Director Kevin Dutcher moves the piece along with a good pace, while also allowing the performers space to build up their characters.