Fans of contemporary musical theatre will be no stranger to the work of Jason Robert Brown with his two-hander musical The Last Five Years and song cycle Songs for a New World being pretty standard Fringe fayre. This production of Last Five Years, produced by University of Birmingham alumni company, LCubed, provided a pleasant surprise, presenting the musical not just with the prerequisite piano but full band of violin, cello, guitar and bass.
Watching the story of a young couple whose marriage falls apart because of their incompatible professional aspirations - told in reverse, I found myself struggling to piece the narrative together, the musical feeling at times more like a collection of songs than the sung through linear narrative should have allowed.
Watching one of two casts performing the piece on alternate nights, University of Birmingham students Alex Parker and Branwen Bennell, both showed that they were vocally capable of delivering the score, with Parker's rendition of Christmas fairytale, "The Schmuel Song", a highlight. Both performances were let down by unimaginative direction however, with neither character really given the chance to shine or deliver the show's full potential.