Same Time Next Year
London Classic Theatre
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
February 8-12, 2022, 1hr 45min
Is it possible to have "friends with benefits" and remain guilt free? Maybe not, but there's no harm in trying!
This is the premise of Bernard Slade's venerable comedy, revived here by London Classic Theatre.
First performed in 1975 and tracking the changes in society from the 1950s to the then-present mid-1970s, Same Time Next Year sets out as a comedy and becomes an examination of character over a 20-year span.
The story starts simply enough. Two people, Doris and George, impulsively embark on a one night stand and experience sufficient attraction to agree to meet on the same date every year, same hotel room.
But over time the pair compare experiences as they go through the trials of family life and career, their growing sense of longing for each other unable to overcome the constancy of family life. As well as some great comic moments and dialogue, there is plenty of pathos: both struggle with guilt and betrayal when together, but yearn for each other when apart.
During the course of the play we see Doris and George develop as people, beautifully portrayed by Sarah Kempton and Kieran Buckeridge. Doris turns from housewifely figure into a self-assured but still feminine businesswoman in the 1970s; meanwhile George turns from bumbling young man to a far more self-assured, but still vulnerable, version of himself. The music choices, and Bek Palmer's costumes, illustrate the passage of time and the changing status of the characters well.
Of course the play is a child of its time, but the examination of personal relationships has universal appeal and the timeframe is really interesting – from post war America to the 1970s, through the civil rights protests, to the growth of the women’s movement and Vietnam.
Slade had a background in sit-coms such as Bewitched and The Partridge Family, and the quickfire one-liners are evident in his carefully constructed, thoughtful script, well negotiated here by director Michael Cabot. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but the play is much more than that, with absorbing dialogue underlying the excellent gags.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable evening - and it is pleasing to see Theatr Clwyd continuing to welcome people – albeit not through the usual entrance – as it starts its multi-million-pound refurb project. There were interesting moments as the wind seemed it might lift the tent containing the well-fitted bar and toilet facilities off the ground!
While these arrangements are temporary, the usual warm welcome from staff shows that it's now back to business as usual in Mold, and long may that last.
Tickets and information here