One of the curses of the Internet age is that we become hyper-aware of the physical distance between us and all the cool people who’s company we enjoy.
One of it’s blessings is that we can still engage with them.
For instance, if it wasn’t for Facebook, I probably would have lost touch with Oregon-based writer Suzi Steffen after we both participated in a USC-Annenberg arts journalism program in L.A.
Here’s our latest back and forth after she posted wanting to talk about Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years.”
SUZI: I’m slightly obsessed with deconstructing all of the lyrics and the emotions and the FEELINGS of the musical “The Last Five Years.” Like, we saw it three years ago? But every time I listen to it I have more thoughts. Or maybe they’re the same thoughts and I have it again, IDK. Who wants to talk about Cathy and Jamie?
LOU: Heard it recently with two women (playing both as women–don’t tell JRB). Seeing it with two women playing the characters as women was REALLY interesting. And, if it matters, I saw the original off-Broadway production as well. Plus, of course, hearing 400 people singing songs from it at auditions and open mic nights.
SUZI: OK SO do you think the entire thing is what Jamie is imagining Cathy is thinking? I mean in a very real sense, it obviously is, since JRB wrote it, but in the world of the musical itself, I thought maybe it’s Jamie closing the door and then thinking about what he thought she might be thinking, what he conceived her as thinking/saying the entire time.
LOU: That doesn’t wring true to me because I think by the end of it he has rationalized the downfall of the relationship and the breakup. I don’t think he’d be empathetic enough to put that first song in her.
SUZI: The interesting thing to me is that Jamie comes off as a real piece of crap in the second half – well, he does in “Shiksa Goddess” too, a song that makes me gasp with anger pretty much every time. He’s so obsessed with the kind of woman who’s “out of his league” or whatever, from then on. The utter dissing of Jewish women in that song – it comes back to bite him, of course. I’d say Cathy was supposed to be Catholic from the story about her friends getting married and the “Crucifix on the wall.” I am so damn fascinated by this musical and how much it doesn’t say, how much it refers to – like “not another shrink, not another compromise” – when did they, or she, go to therapy? When did he compromise? When Cathy goes from (in chronological, not musical, order) “I can do better than that” to “I want to bear your child,” I’m like, Oh shit, Cathy. WHAT HAPPENED?