By Scott Overton
Extramarital affairs are wrong. Right? That’s what we think we should believe, anyway.
An affair is a betrayal and an admission that you can’t get everything you need from your relationship with your marriage partner. Is it possible to really love more than one person at a time? And is it right to act on it?
Serious questions when you consider that the newest production at the Sudbury Theatre Centre, Same Time, Next Year by Bernard Slade, is a romantic comedy. But the play will make you consider those questions and many more before it’s through.
The story involves George and Doris, who meet in February of 1951, have a one-night stand, and then agree to meet again once every year for more than 20 years.
They don’t just share sex, but also share all of the rest of their regular experiences as they get caught up each time they meet. It’s an unlikely device, but it serves to give us a very different lense through which to watch the lives of these two people unfold.
They’re both happily married to other people. Each has several children. They go through some very tough times, some happy times, and all the while find something in each other that meets a need they can’t fill any other way.
They don’t shy away from talking about their families — it’s part of the deal.
They each share a good story and a bad story about their spouses each year. George and Doris are likeable people, both vulnerable in different ways, and however you feel about cheating in marriage you’ll be drawn into their stories and find yourself hoping they’ll have a happy ending.
Except it’s hard to predict what that could be.
Deborah Drakeford as Doris and Jeff Miller as George have worked together before, and that comfort level is obvious and important as they convey the passion of the two lovers. The script requires them to be equally adept at delivering one-liners and portraying emotional moments that make the audience gasp.
They have to show their characters aging and undergoing some radical attitude changes through three of the most tumultuous decades of our lifetime: the fifties, sixties, and seventies.
It’s a big challenge, but Drakeford and Miller are up to it. At the preview performance I saw, George’s manic neurosis was a little much at first, but the cast settled in nicely.
I’ve always been a fan of this play, so I’m glad to be able to recommend the STC’s production.
There are enough witty lines to provide lots of big laughs, but Same Time, Next year will also touch you in much deeper places.
Same Time, Next Year plays at the Sudbury Theatre Centre until March 10. The box office number is 705-674-8381 x21 or go online to www.sudburytheatre.on.ca.
Scott Overton is the morning show host on Rewind 103.9 and writes theatre reviews for Northern Life.