George and Doris have been together for twenty-five years. But they’re not celebrating their Silver Wedding. For they’ve spent a total of only twenty-five weekends together – an annual tryst both have honoured and looked forward to since they first pledged to share every anniversary of the first morning they awoke in bed together after a drunken fling!
Over the years, the room in the country inn where they meet does not change, but the couple are changed and indeed buffeted by their varying fortunes, from the ups and downs of their respective marriages to the encroaching of the outside world of war and politics on their lives – and of course by the years, as they grow older more or less gracefully.
Bernard Slade’s 1970s comedy has a delicate sweetness that some might call slight. The well-timed one-liners smack of the best of US sitcoms – Frasier comes to mind – and indeed Slade’s credits include the hit TV series The Partridge Family.
Same Time Next Year won a Tony nomination and Drama Desk Award on Broadway and in Alvin Rakoff’s well-paced production, it’s not hard to see why. The award-winning film starred Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn and this two-hander demands killer casting. Steven Pacey and Shona Lindsay deliver the goods with charm and insight. Dorothy Parker famously accused Katherine Hepburn of running the gamut of emotions from A to B. This pair easily reaches Z as they reveal more of themselves with each succeeding year.
We meet the couple every five years or so and vicariously we get to meet their respective spouses and children as they exchange confidences – breaking the ice that accumulates over the other 364 days by telling each other stories in which those spouses are the hero and villain by turns.
It’s a measure of good writing well-interpreted, that you feel you’ve got to know these offstage characters and even care about them as you learn what’s befallen them over the years. Both characters also age credibly. Lindsay especially revels in being a ‘mature’ student hippy and then a sharp-suited career woman and grandmother, with a sleek French pleat.
The evening's only disappointment is that the scene changes, designed to precisely mark the passage of time with period music and radio newscasts played in semi-blackout, are too long and it might have been more beguiling to eschew the mystery for on-stage transformations.
- Judi Herman