By Judi Straughan
“Waiter. See that beautiful woman over in the corner? Send her a steak, on me.”
As pick-up lines go, it’s not exactly a classic. In George’s life, it is one of the most uncharacteristic things he had ever done, making a move to meet a captivating woman in a restaurant.
Fast forward 12 hours and George and Doris are waking up together in a cozy little rental cottage. Nothing could shock either of them more because — and here is the surprise — both are very happily married to someone else.
Neither seems to have any complaints about their lives.
Bernard Slade’s classic romance Same Time, Next Year is a breath of comedic fresh air.
“George and Doris are two characters that the audience recognizes and become instantly invested in,” actor Jeff Miller noted. “Like most of us, even though they’re basically happy, they just can’t help wanting a little more out of life. It’s human nature.”
Miller also referenced Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods where all of the characters from Cinderella to Jack to Little Red Riding Hood sing about their personal desires.
“They all sing a song that keeps repeating, ‘I wish.’ Don’t we all?”
Deb Drakeford, who plays Doris, said what George offers Doris is undeniably fulfilling.
“George is so completely vulnerable and honest and ridiculously beautiful,” Drakeford said. “He accepts everything about her without a hint of criticism. He would move mountains for her and always provides a safe place where she can be 100 per cent herself.
“She may love her husband, but this is something special.”
Same Time, Next Year takes the audience on a romp from the 1950s through the 1970s as George and Doris, after their one-night fling, decide to meet on the same weekend every year afterward.
They never expect their lives will be inextricably linked for more than 24 years.
Is this true love? But, both are happily married and committed to their respective partners, aren’t they?
The situation is puzzling, but playwright Slade keeps the comedy cylinders firing.
Our STC evening with George and Doris is simply one laugh after another. We know they’re both married, but, for two hours, we share their unbridled joy and find ourselves treasuring this enduring affair.
How can that be? We are talking about adultery here.
“There is so much humanity in this script,” Drakeford said. “A surprising amount of truth and honesty.”
“It’s fun, it’s silly and sometimes over the top, but ultimately it’s an exceedingly clever, romantic play,” Miller added. “No wonder it’s been popular for so long.”
Both actors look a tad embarrassed at how much they laugh during rehearsals — a good sign the chemistry is right.
“(Artistic Director) David Savoy encourages us to explore, be playful and trusts us,” Miller said. “The best work comes out of that kind of safe situation Even our stage manager Eamonn (Reil) is aboard our daily laugh fest.”
“It’s a completely delicious situation,” Drakeford said.
How could being wooed by a small-town guy with a steak be anything but delicious?
STC’s comic feast Same Time, Next Year runs from Feb. 21 to March 10 at the Sudbury Theatre Centre.
Visit sudburytheatre.on.ca for tickets and info.
Judi Straughan is the education co-ordinator at the Sudbury Theatre Centre.