Review by Danny Gaisin
Creative Writing 101 teaches that any article or missive must start with a ‘hook’ to capture a reader’s attention. Same goes for live theatre and Daemon’s director Carl Pucl’s take on the Jason Brown autobiography “THE LAST FIVE YEARS” exemplifies this dictate perfectly. From within the audience’s Stage-right entry of Cathy, to the egress by her partner, ‘Jamie’ on the opposite side; attention is grabbed and firmly held until curtain 90 minutes later.
A stark yet dramatic stage with a backdrop of random shapes; spectators meet Kaleigh Gorka’s WASPish Cathy sing-citing about her just ended relationship…she’s “still hurting” and the empathy she gleans is almost tangible. Gorka has a powerful soprano voice with just a soupçon of tremolo that viscerally impacts on every listener. Coupled with an expressively mobile face that’s also traffic-stopping pretty, she is a perfect casting choice. Then Josh Wiles solos with his joy at finally meeting his ‘Shiksa* Goddess” after a long bout of dating “JAPs*”. She’s an aspiring actress; he’s writing a book. Wiles captures every nuance of his character including the devotion and affinity that grows; matures and finally withers. He has previously received positive mention in these pages for a strong portrayal in Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013) and a convincing soliloquy written by Noel Coward for his “demi-Monde’. Wiles has lost none of the thespian talent he gleaned at UTM & Sheridan. Two such talents are a must to carry out the intricacies of both the play’s motif and the artistic hypothesis of the director.
Pucl’s perception of Brown’s relationship with his wife Theresa O’Neill was so vivid as to require changes in order to fend off a lawsuit. So, the director actually makes Gorka’s Cathy the most interesting and certainly most sympathetic character. Any parent will feel a strong urge to hold her close; pat her back and say ‘things will work out’, or words to that effect. Its borderline credible that Wiles’ Jamie would ever look elsewhere no matter how wide the chasm between their career progressions differs. The immaculate detailing; effective blocking and formidable support from both sound and light make this effort a true gem. Pucl’s delicate and restrained wedding scene displays both principals at their finest.
The costuming by Julia Lee reflects the changing statuses of the relationship as well as subtly mirroring the relative positions of the protagonists. Doug Price’s five-piece orchestra never overpowers and is technically faultless. THE LAST FIVE YEARS is another of those rare gems that become a must-see experience and as it closes this evening, if you’ve snoozed; you’ve loozed!