One of the things I loved last night (at the opening of Bernard Slade’s play Same Time Next Year at the Kalk Bay Theatre) was what Simon Cooper said about this guy who saw this play (did he say 30 years ago?) and who loved it, and who has spent the last 10 years trying to get it onto stage. Then he said, “I am that guy and this is that play.”
But that wasn’t the only thing I loved about this completely charming, sweet and very funny play. I loved the (when I think about it it is quite ridiculous) idea of a married (to others) couple meeting for a weekend affair once a year for 25 years. I loved Chris Weare’s totally spot-on and immaculate directing. Because I see his work with students I know what an awesome teacher he is, but here, there is a certain freedom with working with Paul du Toit and Julie Hartley who are such professionals, and Chris’s directorial footprint is delicate but all over the piece. That’s probably because he also designed the production; a challenge because the play spans 25 years in the same space.
Mostly I loved Paul du Toit and Julie Hartley as George and Doris. Really, watching Paul is like watching a handsome Bob Newhart. He is quirky, hilarious and so, so funny and his timing is amazing. He makes us want to hang with George all the time, which is good, because that’s what the play is all about. Julie, as Doris, is totally different but as delicious. She is warm, sexy and lovely. I would also have fallen completely in love with her.
What is great about this production is that it embraces the fact that the play was obviously considered very modern when it was first performed in 1975, and as the audience we can’t help watching it with nostalgic, rose tinted glasses. This goes for its absolute Americanness too, which could have been a pain, but really wasn’t. That is helped by mostly very good accents by Paul and Julie.
To be honest, I can’t imagine anyone not loving, laughing through and enjoying Same Time Next Year. Catch it now at KBT, or in Grahamstown, at the festival.