Twenty-five years ago, Doris and George impulsively began (what was to become) an enduring affair of the heart, when they met at a guest inn in 1951. Even though both are married, they are so taken with each other, that they agree to meet every year, on the same weekend. Same Time, Next Year invites us along, every five years, as the prevailing American zeitgeist changes and their personal attitudes shift. Along with their clothes, hair and lingo. We watch as they navigate the perils and practical considerations of carrying on an extramarital affair. Even when Doris goes into labor, they sort it all out, in the midst of chaos. They don't agree on every issue, but clearly they are getting something unavailable to them in marriage. Clearly George and Doris are a good fit.
Same Time is a somewhat light, quippy comedy (ala Neil Simon) with just enough serious content to keep us emotionally involved. There's a lot of dry wit in Doris and George's conversation, always tinged with the understanding that while they're crazy for one another, they're also committed to an illicit relationship. Neither is terribly unhappy with their respective spouses, nor do they seem overburdened with guilt. Not that they're cavalier. In a way, Same Time is like a congenial version of Last Tango in Paris, without the rapacity, vitriol and Weltschmerz. Yes, there's pain and irony. Doris and George are able to confide anecdotes they probably couldn't with anybody else. There's a suggestion of intimacy they perhaps lack with their own conjugal partners, the opportunity to work through issues that are otherwise unresolved. There's a kind of casual, glib quality to their frank dialogue, that keeps us amused, though we never see them in the tremors of passion. It's almost as if playwright Bernard Slade, is trying to pitch an obtuse case for adultery, or perhaps the problematic aspects of monogamy.
One senses the context imbues Doris and George's connection with a kind of remote titillation. Both are very likable, and we never get the feeling the two are together out of a wild, giddy desire to flout society's expectations. Much of the humor in Same Time emerges from the nonchalance. Neither Doris nor George is necessarily well-adjusted, but they're secure enough to recognize what they need, without compunctions. Same Time never punishes them for their infidelity, but neither do we get the impression it carries them to intense emotion. It flirts with some melancholy issues, but I'm not sure how much use it has for them. Slade seems to be showing us the unglamorous side of sin, between two people who genuinely care for one another without feeling the need to ignite drama in their married lives. Same Time is cozy, wistful, clever and charming, a sort of quirky manifesto for bourgeois transgression that chuckles at sex in the abstract.
Rover Dramawerks presents Same Time, Next Year, playing March 20th-April 12th, 2014. 221 West Parker Road, Suite 570, Plano, Texas 75023. 972-849-0358. RoverDramawerks.com