"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Nietzsche's dictum, great for individuals seeking motivation, bad for couples incapable of masking mutual resentment. Case in point: Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years, now receiving a soulful production by 11th Hour Theatre Company at University of the Arts' Caplan Center for the Performing Arts.
Brown's book chronologically separates the sung-through story lines of twentysomethings Jamie (Michael Philip O'Brien) and Cathy (Cara Noel Antosca); her narrative begins at the end of their failed five-year marriage and works backward, while he retells the story from the start. It's a clever, if at times confusing, device in which each character tells one side of the story, only interacting with the other in the number that signifies their engagement and wedding.