Peggy Sue Dunigan
Reviewed

Same Time, Next Year

By - Mar 10th, 2009 12:24 pm
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Romantic commitment tangles with social convention in a love story laced with humor. Same Time, Next Year, the latest selection from the Sunset Playhouse, continues to charm audiences with this complicated liaison that spans 25 years. The 1975 Drama Desk Award-winning play by Bernard Slade centers around two characters, Doris and George, who meet unexpectedly away from home and fall deeply and madly in love. Yet they are each married (to other people) and have children, a major inconvenience.

The six scenes in two acts spans 1951-1975 revealing the growth that Doris and George experience as individuals and a couple while committing to meet once each year on the same weekend. Not only do they love each other, but each other’s families as well. This highly unconventional combination provides the framework that gives the production its heart. Even though this story decidedly resists social norms, this unlikely pair displays concern, dignity and humanity throughout the production.

Sarah Laak Hughes and Cesar Gamino play Doris and George with all these essential qualities while imparting a genuine chemistry to their relationship, filled with sexual tension and affection, but appreciating each other as a man and woman. Although opening night provided a bit of nervousness in dialogue, the run will only become better. Several poignant scenes defy time, including those dealing with growing children, growing up and growing older, even struggling with death.

Director Mark Salentine finds a balance between the humor and the guilt inherent in this obviously complicated situation that complements set and technical designer J. Michael Desper’s comfortable and pleasing guest cottage setting. Even new managing director Jonathan West appears to have touched the Sunset with his distinguished expertise as seen in the impressive quality of their last two productions. But ultimately, Hughes and Gamino discover the core of the script and believe throughout these many years that, “Life is saying yes… even when one’s life can be a mess.”

Through each heartthrob and heartache, the positive energy of love and concern is demonstrated for all persons, including the spouses of the couple, Harry and Helen, which shines through the production and becomes applicable to any relationship. Kudos to Hughes and Gamino for giving Doris and George yet another 25 years on stage in Same Time, Next Year, however unconventional their romance might be.  In life, everyone needs support and commitment from friends and others to get by in an often-heartless world, and this March at the Sunset Playhouse, love expresses itself in its own unique way.

The Sunset Playhouse presents Same Time, Next Year until March 21. For information: 262.782.4430.

Categories: Theater

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