Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Leigh Barrett
Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez
Copley Square area, Boston
November 12 – December 12, 2021
With Jared Troilo (Jamie), Kira Troilo (Cathy)
Cathy, an actress, begins at the end of the relationship and laments the fact that Jamie has written her a note saying he cannot go on. Jamie, on the other hand, starts at the beginning, as an aspiring writer, just as they are meeting and getting together. As they exchange songs, Jamie goes forward in time and Cathy goes backward and they meet briefly in the middle.
The married couple Jared and Kira Troilo take on the roles of Jamie and Cathy, adding a touch of background realism to this poignant comic tragedy. They are both charming and engaging performers and both know how to get the audience to laugh and to shed a tear. Their singing and acting are capable and enjoyable, though, as announced at the opening of the program, Kira was clearly compromised by a cold and with fairly thin voice.
The book and libretto by Jason Robert Brown is based on his own broken early marriage. It’s emotionally stark and revealing but funny as well. The cross-cultural relationship between Jamie and Cathy – he’s Jewish and she’s not – prompts one very amusing song about Christmas and Hanukkah. As an up and coming actress, Cathy has a sardonically funny song about endless and trying auditions and having to be in the middle of nowhere for a summer stock run. Overall, the lyrics are appealing enough; there is nothing too witty, surprising or memorable but they go down easily. The music, deftly orchestrated, offers articulate support despite a touch of Broadway boilerplate feel; there’s nothing wrong with it, though it radiates competence without enormous eloquence.
One must credit Jason Robert Brown for writing something austere and honest. The backwards and forwards gimmick gives uniqueness to this narrative. In a positive sense, one could view the converging timelines as an original treatment of expectation and coordinated disappointment, but, other than that, one wonders whether this device helps to reveal much about the relationship between the two characters.
The dramatized disappointments are brief though potent, but framed very capably by director Leigh Barrett and the two actors. In one, Cathy looks inside the front of Jamie’s newly published book and reads the dedication page, registering a sinking heart as she does. With no word spoken, the message is clear and the moment wrenching. Jamie, at a slightly later point, having just published his book, begs Cathy to come to the release party, but she won’t. Again, the rejection is painful and unsettling. These are the most powerful dramatic points in the show, and convey the perspicacious insight that such actions come in sequence, obliquely responding to one another, disabling relationships in their path. Seeing this happen both backwards and forwards enables one to to put this couple’s pain under a timeless microscope, and to recognize the components of emotional destruction from an unexpected set of angles.
This intimately engaging production by two capable actors who are not only married but clearly work together extremely well offers that insight with dramatic potency and just a touch of irony.
– BADMan (aka Charles Munitz)