Exeter, Devon UK • Feb 22, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Arts & Lit Review: Shotgun Theatre – The Last Five Years

Review: Shotgun Theatre – The Last Five Years

Lauren Walsh reviews Shotgun Theatre's latest production, The Last Five Years.
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Review: Shotgun Theatre – The Last Five Years

The Last Five Years, Shotgun Theatre. Image: Sophia Winning

Lauren Walsh reviews Shotgun Theatre’s latest production, The Last Five Years.

A poignant show that ruminates on the bittersweet nature of relationships, The Last Five Years, written by Jason Robert Brown, tells the story of Jamie, a writer, and Cathy, a struggling actress, their five-year-long relationship and its eventual breakdown. Shotgun Theatre’s production of The Last Five Years was put on in Frank Oliver, Kay House 23rd –25th November.

The show had a relatively small cast of only four members with two actors playing each character. One couple tells the story of Cathy and Jamie’s relationship in chronological order, the other in reverse, with the songs alternating between each couple. The actors themselves were phenomenal, with Jamie being played by Hector Price and Will Jacklin, and Cathy being played by Emma Bate and Daisy Devlin, all of whom have amazing singing voices that really conveyed the charisma and passion of their characters. 

All [the actors] have amazing singing voices that really conveyed the charisma and passion of their characters

The interesting nature of the chronology of the show means that it could potentially be difficult for audience members who have no idea what they’re getting into to follow, but Shotgun Theatre’s production had no such problem. Due to the well-done staging – like the cast, the stage was effectively split in half, with parallel sets on each side – and direction, the show was easy to understand, even for theatre newbies. Each Jamie and Cathy also wore similar costumes and looked enough alike (well done to whoever did the casting!) so that it was easy to pick up on what was going on.

Image: Sophia Winning

The show itself contains little to no dialogue, and the plot is told entirely through its songs – so it’s a good job the songs are amazing, with catchy hooks and moving lyrics, which make you heavily invested in the characters and their fate. The music is made more incredible by the talented live band, making the show even more immersive.

It is also genuinely funny, with jokes scattered throughout that will make you laugh, adding to the believability and humanity of the characters and adding to the audience’s enjoyment of the show. These more light-hearted moments also serve to strengthen the emotional impact of The Last Five Years: the sad moments are made more heart-breaking by the fact that we know the couple was happy to begin with. 

Overall, the show was an absolute triumph that I would highly recommend, and I can’t wait to see more of Shotgun Theatre’s productions in future!

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