After a critically-acclaimed run at the Southwark Playhouse last year, The Last Five Years opens at the Garrick Theatre this month for a limited run. I spoke to Molly Lynch, one of the two stars in the show about breathing life back into their sensational show and opening it in the West End.
“It’s one of those classic musical theatre shows that you become obsessed with,” said Molly “People think musicals are these massive shows but this is a musical on an intimate, small scale that has been quite doable in this past year, which is why it has been done a lot.”
Telling the story of Cathy and Jamie, the show depicts the ups and downs of their relationship from start to finish. Jamie shares his story from the spark of their relationship’s giddy beginning, whilst Cathy’s side is told in reverse, from the end of their turbulent partnership.
“It’s a love story about a relationship between two people. It is simple in content but everyone can relate to it in some way. It is a beautiful, beautiful story.
“It’s a microscopic view on a relationship between two people and I guess that’s what we’ve all had to do in the last year and a half. We’ve really looked at our relationships, how we manage them and if things can work. We’ve all been in a bit of a pressure cooker in terms of relationships so the show is really something that people can understand, especially after this year.”
Having opened at the Southwark Playhouse last year, Jonathan O’Boyle’s production of this show is unique in the way it is actor musician. Both Molly Lynch and Oli Higginson play piano, guitar and even ukulele to bring this show to life in a thrilling new way.
“I’ve done a bit of actor musician stuff before in college but this is the most actor muso show I’ve done – and the most heavy singing too,” Molly explained.
“I mean I didn’t think it was possible when we first started, it seemed like an impossible mountain to climb but luckily Jonathan had a really great plan and Oli and I went from thinking ‘how are we going to make this happen’ to realising we could do it.”
Molly has admired the role of Cathy ever since she started training at drama school. “I mean she is a struggling actor, so I can hard relate,” said Molly. “I listened to the music a lot when I first moved to London from Ireland. She is the kind of character I grew up with and saw myself in.
“Interestingly she was actually based on an Irish Catholic American girl so I always have a really strong connection with the character. She is not your typical heroine, she is flawed and stubborn and a bit silly.
I think she is a really well-rounded woman and a realistic heroine. She doesn’t always make the right decisions, she is very romantic but also fighting against letting the relationship lead her down somewhere she doesn’t want to go. It is a show about being in your 20s, manoeuvring a career and a relationship.”
It’s an intense show with just two actors, and Molly has been on quite the journey with this production after its stop-start opening during 2020.
“It’s amazing to work with Oli,” Molly said. “We actually know each other well from many years ago as we did National Youth Music Theatre together when we were young. At the time I was living in Ireland so I stayed with him in his family home when I came over to do it.We’ve been friends on Facebook for years but hadn’t kept in touch so we had a lot to catch up on.
“It’s so amazing seeing him grow as an actor, I really got to watch his process and I learnt so much from watching him work and he did the same with me. It was such detailed work and we really got to understand each other.”
Molly explained about how her favourite moment in the show is when they meet in the middle for a piano duet. “There’s usually a first dance where they finally meet, but for us it’s a piano duet which is really epic and satisfying when we get to that part.
“We get to look at each other and be in the same space in time. Even though we are together a lot, we are not existing in the same time but that is a really special moment as we are with the band and it really feels like an ensemble moment in the show.”
The Last Five Years is a timeless musical that feels relevant to everyone whatever stage of life they are in. It is a show about longing, compromise, flaws, mistakes and the multitude of emotions that come with loving someone.”
“I really just hope people enjoy it, and in some way it helps them either forget about the last year or process the last year,” said Molly. I know for me the things I’ve seen since all this has happened, I’ve been really emotional. It has been the weirdest most unexpected time and I think especially because this show is about relationships and two people trying to discover if they should stay together or not.
“I think it will resonate with a lot of people in a joyful way or a reflective sad way. I do think it will speak to everyone especially after the year we’ve had.
“I mostly want them to experience joy to be in a theatre again and that sense of community and togetherness – I just want them to just have the best time. To be with their family and friends, have a drink and a hug and do all the things we couldn’t do for so long.”
The Last Five Years is on at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End from Friday 17th of September to Sunday 17th of October. Tickets can be found on their website.