Review: Theatre Macon’s 'Same Time, Next Year'
By R. Andrew Strickland
(Originally published in the Macon Telegraph, May 16, 2006.)
The premise seems innocuous enough. Look in on the lives of a loving couple on their anniversary every five years or so from 1951 to 1975. Explore the effect different time periods and social attitudes have on their relationship. Watch as their love develops from something young and volatile to something mature and lasting. Now, throw in the fact that the couple is not married to each other and you have the plot of Bernard Slade’s Same Time, Next Year.
Theatre Macon added Same Time, Next Year to their season as a replacement for the popular Greater Tuna when the rights to the latter were not available. Featuring local directors Jim Crisp and Sylvia Haynie as lovers George and Doris, the production is a wonderful journey through time and love.
Same Time, Next Year is a challenging piece of work. It requires two performers to hold the stage by themselves for over two hours while representing two constantly maturing and changing characters. Thankfully, Crisp and Haynie are up to the task, providing believable and deeply nuanced performances.
Where Same Time, Next Year succeeds or fails is in whether or not the actors are believable when playing out of their age range. Crisp and Haynie handle this difficult requirement just fine, giving their younger characters a suitable energy and adjusted physicality. In fact, the physicality of this production is especially strong throughout.
But where Same Time, Next Year really impresses is in the second act. There is a great deal of dramatic potential in the conflicting attitudes of George and Doris. Crisp and Haynie use it well, transitioning effortlessly from comic to dramatic moments. It speaks well of the cast that they handle both with equal aplomb.
Crisp doubles as the production’s director. His work here is equally strong. The play is beautifully staged, with effective blocking and attractive stage pictures.
The visual life of the show is aided by the set, a rustic take on a country inn. Shelley Kuhen’s costumes are just right, tracing the change of attitude and time effectively.
The only real drawbacks to this production are the incredibly long pauses between scenes. There is almost no way around this, however, since the characters need to change costumes and the set needs to be redressed. These long moments were filled with music evocative of the next time period, which did help to establish the next scene.
Also unusual was the use of the convention of the dimly lighted stage. The dim lighting was used traditionally for set changes, but also for an amorous encounter between George and Doris. Using the same lighting for both a moment the audience was supposed to watch and several that they were obviously not supposed to watch seemed uneven.