What starts out as a one-night stand turns into an annual rendezvous in the same room in the same seaside inn on the same weekend every year for Doris and George, two otherwise happily married people. The trysts continue for more than two decades in the Mid-Ohio Valley Players’ production of Bernard Slade’s Same Time Next Year. The story, made famous when adapted into a film starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn, is directed for MOVP by Leslie McGoran. What makes the situation all the more odd is the fact that the couple are completely open about their spouses, even trading a bad and good story about each spouse at the beginning of every meeting and sharing pictures of their children.
Beth Lane as Doris and Tim Tuten as George make for a fun, unusual couple, though it is a stretch to actually call them a couple. They are in what appear to be thriving marriages and literally see each other for forty-eight hours a year. As one would expect, they both deal with the guilt of betraying their spouses, though each quite differently from the other. Tuten’s George, a quirky fellow, wears his heart on his sleeve and just doesn’t understand how Lane’s Doris is so easily able to deal with things. He eventually finds that she isn’t nearly as lacking in conscience as she seems, but simply bears the self-loathing more quietly.
One of the truly entertaining elements of the story is the very fact that they only see each other once a year. People can change drastically over that length of time. When we live together with someone and see them daily, we don’t usually notice big style and attitude changes, as they tend to take place gradually over the course of months, but those changes become shockingly stark when our entire experience of the other person is once a year. Some of the changes are quite humorous, such as when George shows up particularly excited to “consummate” their meeting, only to walk out of the restroom to be greeted by an extremely pregnant Doris. Some, however are quite tragic, such as the year Doris, a newly minted flower child attending Berkeley, is accosted by a suddenly war-mongering George. The reason for George’s change is revealed in a truly heart-rending moment.
This show has it all. There are plenty of laughs, some supplied by the cranky inn owners, played quite curmudgeonly by John Mack McHale and Anita Newhart. Technically, McHale and Newhart are the stage crew, but they provide insights into the era of each new meeting as they reset the stage for the next scene. The story also has its serious, sometimes even deeply sad moments, as Hale and Tuten do a great job of growing old together, helping each other deal with the ups and downs of marriage, parenthood, and life in general. If it weren’t for the fact that they were betraying their spouses in the process, theirs would be a perfect friendship.
This story is definitely for adults. The themes dealt with are quite raw at times, as is the language, so please be careful about bringing younger children to see it. And for parents of older children, be prepared for the possibility of some awkward questions about sex and extramarital affairs. But adults will find this show enjoyable. Seriously consider getting tickets and soon, as the show opened on Friday, February 8. Subsequent evening performances will take place on February 9, 15, and 16 at 8:00 p.m., with two matinees playing at 3:00 p.m. on February 10 and 17. All performances will be at the Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre at 229 Putnam Street in Marietta. Tickets are available by going to midohiovalleyplayers.org or at the box office just before each performance.