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REVIEW: Same Time Next Year by Bernard Slade

11 Mar – 18 Mar 2017

Tara Buchanan as Doris and Matt Turpin as George.

Congratulations to the production team and actors of Same Time Next Year who gave their audiences a hugely satisfying theatrical night out.  I laughed, cried, wondered where it was going, and when it got there, it felt right.  First time Director at the Stables Theatre, Adrian Bowd, achieved the magic trick of making everything look easy and straight-forward.  However, behind it all were undoubtedly careful and thorough preparation, hard work, and a healthy dose of talent in all quarters.

At the production’s heart were Tara Buchanan as Doris and Matt Turpin as George.  Their performances had a natural ease and confidence that allowed me to relax and enjoy the ups and downs of their characters’ years apart and their annual moments together.  Their unconventional relationship became believable, and you couldn’t help but warm to them, regardless of the rights or wrongs of the choices they had made.  Being true to oneself, and as honest as possible, was a theme throughout, and both actors found this thread in their performances.  Characterisations were also rock steady, enabling the many moods and emotions of their roles to flow, and in turn move my moods and emotions as well.

The light entertainment style of the play was beguiling for it overlaid deeper universal questions.  Lurking just below the routines of daily living, issues of love, sex, insecurity, ambition, advancement, loss and grief, all surfaced during the couple’s time together.  While there was laughter at the humour often used to mark them, the questions the play was asking about relationships were searching and serious, and the performances of Tara and Matt enabled them to be considered as the playwright intended.

A neat set with wall to wall carpeting made for a comfortable acting space, easy on the eye, and well maintained by no nonsense scene changes carried out by the Assistant Stage Manager (Gini Comyns) dressed as a maid.  Well chosen music and an audio commentary of key events of the passing years by David Williams prevented the pace from sagging between scenes and provided context for the play.  Costumes and make-up looked spot-on and helped keep track of the play’s progress across its twenty-four years.

This ultimately kind and generous story of two people trying to make sense of their lives, touched its audience, leaving me feeling uplifted.

Philip Blurton

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