Theatre Review: Same Time Next Year @ The New Vic

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Same Time Next Year by Bernard Slade is an award-winning romantic comedy that follows the affair conducted by George and Doris and is currently playing at the New Vic Theatre.

Having met by chance while away from home, the couple have a passionate affair that leaves them desperate for each other and they agree to meet in the same hotel room in February each year. The plot catches the lovers on the morning after their love affair has been consummated in 1951 and visits them at regular intervals until they reach their 24th – and maybe last – tryst in 1975.

The major problem for the lovers is that the intimate weekends, although eagerly awaited, are often interrupted by events in their other lives. Both participants realise that the physical intimacy of their situation does not cancel out the inability to offer mutual support when one or other of them is facing a personal crisis.

There is also more than a nod towards the rise in feminism over the period of the play as Doris progresses from being a housewife who failed to graduate from high school due to a teenage pregnancy to being the owner of a flourishing business at the same time that George gradually moves away from being a high-powered accountant. This theme in itself gives the play a relevance to the modern era despite being almost fifty years old.

The play works because the audience is allowed to empathise with the characters’ fears and troubles away from the hotel bedroom and gets to learn about the lives of the other people who are important to George and Doris. What could have been a sleazy story has its fair share of morality in its plot line. At the final scene, the audience is left to wonder whether George will allow the romance to continue or if he will put the situation on a more legal footing. Truly, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

The play also works because it is highly amusing. The audience reacted with laughter from beginning to end with the scene when Doris arrives heavily pregnant being particularly noteworthy.

As a two-hander play, actors Sarah Kempton and Kieran Buckeridge had a lot to do on stage. They did it well as they drew us into their private world and were entirely convincing as they took the onlookers through a roller-coaster of emotions. They showed us coquettishness, anguish, fear and the pure joy of being a partnership with their acting skills.

The passing years are signified by alterations in costume and the playing of appropriate music from the time. Director Michael Cabot and Designer Bek Palmer are to be congratulated for making this such an enjoyable experience. The audience showed its appreciation at the conclusion and there were many complimentary comments from them as they made their way from the theatre

London Classic Theatre has rightly earned a fine reputation for its productions. Same Time Next Year is a good addition to its repertoire.

The run continues until April 16th. For ticket information contact 01782 717962 or newvictheatre.org.uk/book-tickets/