The Last Five Years is not an atypical musical—there’s no flash, no show-stopping numbers, no ostentatious costuming or choreographed dancing. There’s not even much of a plot to speak of, but don’t let that put you off. It is much more intimate (and all the more rewarding for it), as the audience follows the five-year relationship of Jamie and Cathy. Jamie’s story moves forwards in time, whilst Cathy’s begins at the end of their relationship and works backwards. They meet for a brief moment in the middle, before they are off down their respective paths—both emerging broken, and yet in very different places. It’s perhaps then appropriate that this new production from emerging company Segue Productions is staged in Star Theatres’ smaller space, as it contributes to the more domestic feel of this acclaimed show.
Ben and Kristin Stefanoff have pulled off an amazing feat by bringing this show to Adelaide’s amateur theatre scene, and it mostly pays off. The leads, played by Kristin Stefanoff and Ben Todd, deftly perform their roles. Stefanoff’s voice in particular is stunning, sweet, fragile and forceful in equal parts. She also has a keen eye for comic timing, as evidenced by her hilarious facial exercises in I Can Do Better Than That.
The band, lead by Ben Stefanoff, are effective and powerful. Seperated from the action by a transparent curtain, they are a tight unit. They threaten to swamp the actor’s voices in several places, but this a small niggle (that, unfortunately, is not particular to this show). The set, designed and constructed by the Stefanoffs, is effective, a series of platforms and stairs adorned with empty picture frames.
Taken separately, these elements work beautifully—unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with cohesion. The band don’t seem to sync with the actors in several instances, especially in the final song. The actors, proficient in their own roles, don’t quite gel as a believable couple. However, the achievement in even putting this production on the first place has to be noted. Putting on The Last Five Years for your first show is a gutsy move considering its unconventionality, and one can predict similarly original efforts from Segue Productions in the future.