Don’t Miss "The Last Five Years"

Playing through June 29th at the Garner Galleria Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, this two-person musical carried me away to a good place this evening.

I attended it alone, because Darlene is hosting a quilting class at the apartment–a frenzy of fabric and thread, a whirlwind of four women totally focused on quilts with the man of the house in elegant exile at the Curtis Hotel for two nights.

The musical is about a man and woman who fall in love, drift apart and after five years finally split up. What’s unique is the way the story is told. At the start, the woman, played tonight by Johanna Brickley, is singing songs from the end of the relationship, and the man, Thom Miller, is at the beginning, five years earlier. As the stage time proceeds, she goes back in time, and he goes forward. This creates all sorts of artful tension and irony, but the real payoff is the point at which they sing together in the same 10 minutes of time before continuing their solo trajectories to past and future.

The score was quirky and unpredictable, and the actors were strong in voice and presence. They made me feel intimately how lucky I am to be in a marriage that works. But it also made me know how often she and I do not reside in the same moment, because of various external ambitions and worries that pull us into our own worlds. I left the theatre determined to find and savor more of our 10 minutes together.

So if you’re in Denver, don’t miss this show! And bring someone you love.

NOTE: The Denver Post reviewer got lost in the couple’s career plot and missed the emotional authenticity, which really worked in my opinion. The guy could have been a lawyer as well as a writer, and she could have been an environmental engineer instead of an aspiring actress–it wouldn’t have changed the deeper human rhythms of the show. I did admire the critic’s coining of a word to describe the show, though. He called it a “divorcical.”

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