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Same Time well worth seeing

Same Time, Next Year offers dynamic performances and humourous moments

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Saturday, Feb 15, 2014 06:00 am

WORTH SEEING – Beverly Luckett-Nafe and Kevin O'Connell star in Same Time, Next Year, running for three consecutive weekends at the Kinsmen Korral.
WORTH SEEING – Beverly Luckett-Nafe and Kevin O'Connell star in Same Time, Next Year, running for three consecutive weekends at the Kinsmen Korral.
APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette

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Same Time, Next Year
Feb. 15, 20 to 22, 27 to 28 and March 1
Kinsmen Korral
47 Riel Drive

At the end of Bernard Slade’s play Same Time, Next Year, a middle-aged man holds a crying woman saying, “I’m back and I’m going to keep coming back until our bones are too brittle to make contact.”

A simple statement, the line is the crux of a little-discussed truth: that in an era of readily disposable relationships, this couple has cherished and found strength in growing old together.

However, George and Doris are not a typical married couple. It’s 1951 and the couple spends a passionate night together after a chance meeting at a California Inn. George is an accountant who has flown in to examine a winemaker’s books. Doris is a frazzled, uneducated mother who has arrived to attend an annual retreat.

After spending an all-consuming, adulterous night together, the pair cannot simply go back to their respective spouses. They have fallen in love and decide to spend one night together on the same weekend in the same hotel every year.

Same Time, Next Year is St. Albert Theatre Troupe’s latest production, opening Saturday at the Kinsmen Korral.

The secret rendezvous relationship unfolds over a 25-year period. Mildly risqué, the secret trysts are revealed in five-year increments during which two dissimilar people experience the ups and downs of marriage, childrearing, career developments, unexpected illness and family deaths.

When it was first produced, Same Time, Next Year was a remarkable touchstone of the 20th century and was most effective at capturing its turmoil. Through the developments and changes in these two people, we see the massive socio-political changes the United States underwent – the civil rights movement, women’s liberation, the Vietnam War and exorbitant capitalism.

As life’s rollercoaster roars along, Doris and George’s annual weekends become a time of reflection, solace and support in a myriad of ways.

One of the funniest scenes occurs when an impotent George arrives eager for Doris’ healing ministrations. But Doris waddles through the door eight-months pregnant and ready to pop.

Kevin O’Connell’s George is a neurotic accountant who grows more uptight as his career advances. After the crisis of losing a child pushes him into analysis, he refocuses in a new direction as a lounge pianist.

O’Connell delivers a high-strung man obsessed by guilt yet unwilling to give up a relationship that anchors his life. George’s nerve-wracking idiosyncrasies are laughable. However, O’Connell is a master at comic timing and presents George with a heavily varnished coat of charm.

And Beverly Luckett-Nafe is the compassionate woman who morphs from a stay-at-home mom to a hippie student at Berkley to a savvy businesswoman. Doris is the couple’s linchpin, knowing when to comfort George or call his bluffs.

Luckett-Nafe’s natural warmth and practicality spills across the stage during every phase of her character’s life. Unlike some actresses who are terrified of revealing wrinkles, Luckett-Nafe employs subtle changes to age from a sexy young thing to a mature woman who’s facing difficult challenges.

Director Katie Elliott displays a deft hand without going over the top. A two-hander requires a special agility to keep the momentum swinging and Elliott’s strong direction maintains the focus right where it should be.

While some of the historical references might feel a little dated, it’s a production worth seeing. There are two dynamic performances, a poignant narrative and a lot of humourous moments.


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