Bernard Slade’s play, which had its Broadway premiere in 1975, is so rarely staged in this country but many will remember the Alan Alda/Ellen Burstyn film version. The play has long been a favourite of director Mark Stratton and for this Esk Valley Theatre staging his fondness is apparent. Yes it is a romantic comedy but it has depth and humanity.
Same Time Next Year is the best production thus far from Esk Valley Theatre, marking a significant raising of already excellent standards. There is integrity and understated emotional power in the playing and it is funny where so many American plays from that period have become unfunny. The humour is not slick, it is character driven and in the most heartening fashion.
Doris and George - Elizabeth Boag and Andrew Piper - stumble into bed and then agree, as the title implies, to meet annually thereafter. The meetings become more about themselves and their respective families than the sex and go on for almost a quarter of a century.
The play and the production are not dated, not lost in the dusty pages of a history book. Boag and Piper age gradually and believably. Even when Boag appears as a hippie, cue sophisticated sniggers, she is a hippie rather than someone merely wearing the clothes and the long haired wig. Hence, no sniggers.
How satisfying. Theatre of rare quality in a remote village hall and folk flocking in from miles around. Esk Valley Theatre is firmly established. Co-founders Sheila Carter and Mark Stratton have shown what can be done and now the level of expectation has been raised.