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Monday, May 23, 2016

Behind the Scene with The Last Five Years

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 9:30 AM

click to enlarge MARIO ELIAS PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Mario Elias Photography
For the past six weeks, Margo Seibert (Rocky) and Zak Resnick (Mamma Mia!) have spent most of their waking moments independently pouring themselves into the same two-person show — The Last Five Years, directed by Michael Berresse and playing at A.C.T.’s Geary theater through June 5. You might think that such an arrangement would foster mutual affection (or mutual irritation) between the pair, but much like the characters they play on stage, Seibert and Resnick find they’re rarely in the same space.

“We’re kind of doing two different shows,” said Resnick, who plays the role of Jamie, an up-and-coming writer who falls for aspiring actress Cathy (played by Seibert) on his journey to success. While Jamie tells his side of a five-year relationship from beginning to end, Cathy works in reverse, resulting in poignant and often puzzling juxtapositions. "It’s very difficult to start at the end of the story,” Seibert said. “The other day, we did all of my material from the beginning … and it was a lot easier. A backwards journey is a lot more work.”
Like much of the audience, Seibert’s favorite part of the show is the one scene that the two act in together. “It is so rewarding,” she said. "It's a unique situation where you don't have a scene partner, ever."
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The show makes an ask of the audience, challenging them to emotionally connect to characters who rarely connect with one another. "What’s the deal?" we wonder as we watch the story play out. "How did this happen?" Were Jamie and Cathy given the chance to reply, this is how Resnick and Seibert imagine the couple might respond.

SF Weekly: What is your partner’s most endearing trait?
Seibert (for Cathy): He’s a stud and he’s super funny. Also, really cute in a yarmulke.
Resnick (for Jamie): Her talent. She’s different and charismatic, also slightly crazy. (And she dances on picnic tables — that was a prerequisite to our relationship.)

SF Weekly: What is your partner’s most irritating quality?
Seibert (for Cathy): His willingness to sacrifice everything else in order to attain his goals.
Resnick (for Jamie): That she doesn’t have more drive; I want her to strive to be great (like I am).

SF Weekly: What would your partner say is your most irritating quality?
Seibert (for Cathy): In his eyes, my neediness and lack of ambition.
Resnick (for Jamie): Escaping into Jamie land and not being present in the relationship.

SF Weekly: What do you wish you’d known about your partner before you got married?
Seibert (for Cathy): Just how hungry he was for his career.
Resnick (for Jamie): Everything I think of sounds way too harsh, but probably that at the very base level that we’re incompatible.
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Seibert and Resnick also have some thoughts of their own.

SF Weekly: What have you learned about marriage from doing this show?
Seibert: Without being your own full person and knowing who you are it’s difficult for a couple to grow together. You can’t find yourself in someone else.
Resnick: Don’t get married! Or maybe just don’t marry an actress.

SF Weekly: What advice would you give to your character if you met them at the start of their relationship?
Seibert: Go do something, Cathy. You’re 23. You’re out of school. The business will be there if you want it. Just go find yourself.
Resnick: Invest in Apple.

The Last Five Years, through June 5, at A.C.T., 415 Geary Street, 415-749-2228.

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A. K. Carroll

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