25-year affair plays at New Village Arts
By Carol Davis
CARLSBAD, California–Bernard Slade’s 1975 comedy Same Time Next Year is kind of little sleeper (no pun intended) of a play. It’s a bitter sweet love story about two people, Doris and George who over the course of 25 years meet each other once a year in Mendocino, California, in a comfortable room in a Spanish style inn that never changes from year to year. They talk, they sleep they exchange little stories about their lives and they make love.
In fact, in that time George and Doris made love together 113 times. Now most married couples, at least the ones I know don’t keep track of their lovemaking, but here’s the scoop: Doris and George are married but not to each other, they are carrying on a ‘secret’ love affair behind their spouse’s backs.
Slade’s play ran on Broadway from 1975 to 1978 with over 1,453 performances and was later (some might remember) made into a movie starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. It might sound a little surprising that a play and then movie about a couple committing adultery could conjure such interest, at the outset. But digging deeper into what the play allows, and even while it may seem a little dated given the state of our 7/24 news cycle of infidelity on the one hand and moral police on the other, it does give a look into the times and attitudes of that particular era.
New Village Arts in Carlsbad was scheduled to produce the 2008 Tony Award winning show Next To Normal which would have been a coup for this local theatre, but that project had to be scuttled for internal reasons. Coming up with a substitute on short notice, especially for this north county theatre that seems to mount more cutting edge and original pieces than not, is no easy task. Thanks to the professionalism of one of our première acting couples Manny and Melissa Fernandes this two-person play, a play I might add that is a perfect vehicle for them, is now up and running and a pleasure to see.
New Village Arts co-founder and artistic director Kristianne Kurner directs Manny and Melissa as George and Doris with a gentle hand leaning more to the humor and heartfelt genuineness of the situations while allowing the changing times to reflect the changes going on in the world around them and in their personal live styles beginning in the early 50’s when we first meet up with them as Doris Day is singing on the radio in their motel room. (Tim Wallace)
The two are so up tight that first day when they awake, and after a night of lovemaking Doris wraps herself up in the bed sheets crawls out of bed and gets dressed in the bathroom. That doesn’t stop them, however from meeting at the same time and same place each year. We catch up with them every five years.
The passages of time are noted by the news on the radio, the music we hear (Justin Lang) and the clothes worn over the twenty-five year span (Kelly Iverson) from 50’s dresses with garter belts to hipster beads and suede vests to slacks and tops for Doris with an assortment of wigs noting the hair styles and slight noticeable changes in the styles of George’s clothes, the lapel widths, shirt designs and a slight graying at the temples.
Over the course of the years she grows more self-assured, finishes college, opens a thriving business and learns to be content with her husband. George on the other hand grows more serious as his business grows and he sees Doris changing, but not all to his liking.
Both manage to rein in their differences as they become more in tune with each other and the shifting attitudes of the times. Their personal triumphs and disappointments are met with understanding and love as they share stories, empathize and commiserate; he even helps with the birth of her fourth child in one of the funniest scenes of their meeting.
Both Melissa and Manny are pros whose comic timing is near perfect. He has a look that says more than he speaks and she has a smile that speaks volumes. Both do what it takes to keep the interest level centered on what’s happening in their now lives as well as what new surprises we can expect from the next meeting. Over the years they settle into what some might call the comfort and ease of a long-term relationship.
Slade is clever enough to toss in just the right amount of pathos, family illness, the Vietnam War, the drug culture, death of a child, near death of a spouse. He balances the serious with the light and frivolous, and to the actor’s credit, they manage it with ease making the most of the situations and giving them credibility. M &M have a fun side and it is evident that they are comfortable with each other, playing off each other and even sharing the spotlight with each other.
As one who is old enough to remember the 50’s, it was a nostalgic trip back to hear the voices of Martin Luther King, LBJ, Doris Day, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley.
Sometimes M&M’s come packaged in a different cloth than a candy wrapper. This particular brand is worth a trip to Carlsbad.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Oct. 7th
Organization: New Village Arts Theatre
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 2787 State Street, Carlsbad, CA
Ticket Prices: Start at $22.00
Davis is a San Diego-based theatre critic. She may be contacted at email@example.com
Short URL: http://www.sdjewishworld.com/?p=31319