1 hotel room, 2 strangers and a 25 year old love story: Same Time, Next Year is an unadulterated tale of adultery sprawled over the course of a quarter of a century.
I’m becoming a regular in the Montreal theatre scene. This is my second play in less than three months–more than I have ever attended in the last 25 years of my life. So much can happen in life and in society during that period; particularly wars and political conflicts. Depending on your age, you might have witnessed the war in Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan… only to name a few. I know for a fact that every person in my entourage can tell me with vivid details where they were and what they were doing when the Twins Towers were hit by airplanes in 2001.
On a brighter note, you most probably have very fond memories of the music, the fashion, and the culture characteristic of the swinging 60’s, the hippie’s 70’s or even the disco 80′s. As a child of the 90’s, I could go through a never-ending list of icons that have marked my generation (think NKOTB, Full House, scrunchies and overalls). The play Same Time, Next Year by Bernard Slade, directed By Diana Leblanc, is built on that premise of time and evolution. We follow George (played by R.H. Thomson) and Doris (Michelle Giroux) as they evolve in their relationship over the course of 25 years after a one-night stand in 1951!
The emotional journey that the unconventional couple goes through–they are both married, but not to one another–is complemented during every scene change with a video animation by the very talented Patrick Boivin. They say that songs and images can convey a heavy set of emotions. That was beautifully depicted in these short animations by highlighting significant moments in history and in pop culture. Some members of the audience sang along, reminisced on headlines that had marked their life, something you rarely get to experience at the theatre.
Let’s not forget what struck me as genius: How do you keep an audience captivated when your play takes place on only one set with the two same characters? Phillip Silver had the task of creating an environment on the set that was an important as the play itself. As he would describe it in this behind-the-scenevideo, as a set designer he became “part of the storytelling team”. Every table, prop and fabric was carefully selected to relate the intimacy and chemistry the actors had between themselves and with the public. We almost felt like voyeurs, being allowed a glimpse into this evolving relationship, like peeping Toms looking through the window of this hotel room. Even the costumes, designed by Eo Sharp, had they own story to tell. Every time they were representative of the changes in the personality of the characters; Georges went from corporate suits to flared pants and Doris from hippie to emancipated business owner.
With only a couple more days to go at the Segal Centre, it is a must-see for everyone. For a trip down memory lane or as a “period piece”, this play has so much to offer that it would be a shame to miss it!