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Brown County Playhouse: Same Time Next Year

The finale of the 2008 season at the Brown County Playhouse is the comedy “Same Time Next Year” directed by Jonathan Michaelsen. The playwright Bernard Slade was a veteran with solid TV credentials. He’d written for more than half a dozen series including “The Flying Nun” and “The Partridge Family.” But as the Brown County Playhouse is quick to point out, this show does have adult language and sexual situations.

“Same Time Next Year” is the most produced two character play in the history of theatre. It’s a series of snap shots taken at five year intervals over twenty-five years.

Doris, Aarya Sara Locker, is a twenty-five year old house wife leaving her husband and three children for an annual weekend spiritual retreat. George, Bill Simmons, is a CPA leaving his wife and three children and coming out to California for a once a year, weekend tax preparation session with an old friend. Clearly these regular yearly affairs are just mild escapes for both of them, but on this particular one set in 1951 they both seem prepared for a bit more of an affair.

In the first scene there’s plenty of confusion and remorse, especially from Bill Simmon’s, George. He seems to think that just feeling guilty lets him off the moral hook of adultery and is pretty whiney about it. Aarya Sara Locker’s Doris, is a bit more relaxed and thus a good deal more likeable. Even though this is a show that’s playing for laughs, it took a couple of scenes spread over ten years for me to warm up to George. As the years race by both characters grow and change. Their yearly meetings become more and more special as they so briefly share their lives. We see the progress through the fifties, the sixties and even the first half of the seventies. Doris has a surprise fourth child, finally graduates from high school and becomes a successful caterer. George loses a son in Viet Nam goes through some soul searching and even moves from being an accountant to playing in piano bars. There are plenty of laughs in “Same Time Next Year,” but there are some real tears as well.

Costume Designer Alexandra Morphet and the actors must have had a good time ransacking the IU Department of Theatre and Drama’s closet for the period costuming for each of “Same Time Next Year”‘s six scenes. My special favorite for Doris was a beautiful hippie style outfit that had her in long hair, jeans, beads, and fringed vest. George’s outfits did reflect attitudes and periods and were a little less flamboyant, but there was a dually noted switch from boxers to briefs.  Sound Designer David Krueger and the director were also concerned with fashions and history and did a great job of finding just the right music for each interlude to set the scenes in their times.

The Brown County Playhouse’s production of Bernard Slade’s “Same Time Next Year” continues on weekends through October twenty-sixth.

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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