Greenbelt Arts Center Same Time, Next YearBy Michael Clark • Sep 27th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Greenbelt Arts Center
Greenbelt Arts Center, Greenbelt, MD
Through October 15th
2:10 with one intermission
Reviewed September 23rd, 2011
Same Time, Next Year is a play by Bernard Slade. Same Time, Next Year follows a married couple who are having an affair. The couple meets together at the same inn once a year for 25 years. Throughout the show we see them every 4 or 5 years as they learn more about their relationships with their spouses and each other.
Anyone involved in theater knows that eventually they may work on a show that they’ve already done before, but it’s unusual that they would repeat the same role. Ken Kemp appears to be making a career out of reruns, as he’s been the Tinman in The Wizard of Oz twice, and now he’s playing George for the second time, after playing the role with the Rockville Little Theater two years ago.
And while you can’t (and shouldn’t) compare different productions of the same show, I must admit at several points in the performance on Friday night I had brief flashbacks to the 2009 production. Yet director Stephen C. Yednock, Jr. has prepared an engaging version of Same Time, Next Year. Ken Kemp’s George was lively, with a few steep peaks in his emotions as George shared his life with his lover, Doris. Not to give anything away, for Same Time, Next Year needs to be experienced as life, with little foreshadowing, but Kemp was successful in sharing the nuances of George’s life. His feelings towards his wife and children were heartfelt, and at times his guilt towards his confused feelings for Doris were just as sincere.
Susan Harper as Doris was a bit unsure of herself throughout the show. To a point, this was a part of the character, yet I wanted her to make stronger decisions of Doris’ character. An example of a weak decision was Doris’ reaction to George’s news of his son in the second act. But it was a joy to see Doris’ self-confidence late in the play, and her reactions to George’s decision in the climactic scene were authentic.
The actors grew 24 years older throughout the play, and that would not have been possible without Dory Gean Cunningham’s excellent costumes and Denise A. Levien’s wonderful hair and makeup design. Indeed, it did seem that the actors relied too much on the costumes, hair and makeup to change their age. Their voices and physical characteristics didn’t change, might they have been walking more slowly at the end of the play, or more quickly at the beginning?
I also recommend you sit as close to the center section of seats as possible. Director Stephen C. Yednock, Jr. staged most of the action down stage center with the actors usually facing the center seating area. While the sides of the playing area were used a few times, if you’re sitting along the sides of the thrust stage, you’ll be viewing a lot of the sides of actors. It also seemed that the actors spent a lot of time planted in place, which caused a few of the scenes to lose energy. Doris in particular was very static, which was out-of-character a few times.
Erica Drezek’s set was charming, a country inn with a huge window overlooking the forest. Between the scenes while the actors were aging and the stage crew straightened the set, snippets of songs were played to help place the scene into context. Most of the songs were accompanied by humming and singing from audience members as they remembered the songs.
A forbidden love story through time, check out the performances in Same Time, Next Year.
Same Time, Next Year is more than just a story about two people having an affair. Like Our Town it is a window in to the lives of the characters and those around them.
It is about times past and yes, it is about the love affair between George and Doris. It is also about the love affair between George and Helen, and Doris and Harry. As these affairs grow and mature we are witness to their joys, suffering, triumphs, agonies, and all that life brings to all of us.
As George and Doris cope with everyday life we are reminded that our own lives and love affairs (most of us with our spouses). Every time I see this play I am a little bit older and I am able to relate to more of what is presented.
Every actor and every director brings something else to this play. I hope you enjoy our trip back to the good old days. I have enjoyed working with Susan, Ken, Jenna and all of the cast and crew. They have given me new insight to a play I thought I knew very well. So lean back and enjoy this tribute to love and life.
Stephen C. Yednock, Jr.
- Doris: Susan Harper
- George: Ken Kemp
- Director: Stephen C. Yednock, Jr.
- Producers: Jeffery Lesniak, Stephen P. Yednock
- Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Jenna Jones Paradis
- Scenic Designer: Erica Drezek
- Lighting Designer: Den Giblin
- Sound Designer: Scott Bringen
- Costume Designer: Dory Gean Cunningham
- Hair and Makeup Designer: Denise A. Levien
- Set Construction Lead: Roger Paradis
- Set Construction crew: Fred Wells, Scott Bringen, Michael Memeth, Susan Harper
- Lighting operations: David Gardner, John Smallwood
- Sound Operations: Scott Bringen
- Program: Betsy Marks Delaney
- Poster/ Art Design: Jeffery Lesniak
- Box Office Manager: Dottie Spivacke
Disclaimer: Greenbelt Arts Center provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7183.