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Inns and outs


Oklahoma City Theatre Company chronicles an affair to remember in ‘Same Time, Next Year.’

Larry Laneer February 15th, 2012

Same Time, Next Year
Oklahoma City Theatre Company
8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through February 19
CitySpace, Civic Center Music Hall
201 N. Walker
$20, $16 students/seniors
297-2264

Almost every show in Oklahoma City Theatre Company’s season is an American play written between 1957 and 1982. Why the company has selected plays from such a limited place and period is a mystery, but its current offering is Bernard Slade’s 1975 romantic comedy, “Same Time, Next Year,” directed by Cristela Carrizales.

In this Neil Simon-esque script, George (Ian Clarke) and Doris (Jodi Nestander) have a chance encounter in a restaurant and spend the night together at a California country inn.

Thus, they begin a two-decade-plus affair where they rendezvous annually in the same room. George is a CPA, while Doris is a Catholic housewife. Both are married with children, and suffer perfectly respectable amounts of guilt, but passion conquers all, and the yearly tryst lives on. Their unseen, but much-discussed spouses are practically characters.

We see George and Doris experience the vicissitudes of life — births, deaths, changes in fashions and attitudes — from the 1950s to the 1970s, like a stone skipping across a pond. Although the play looks like ancient history today, it accurately reflects changes that many people went through during the time.

right Jodie Nestander and Ian Clarke star in “Same Time, Next Year.”

The actors initially seem uncomfortable in their roles. Nestander, who was outstanding in last year’s “Rabbit Hole” at Pollard Theatre, does a solid job. Clarke grows more convincing as George ages, and ultimately gives a satisfying performance.

Brenda Nelson’s costumes and James Polk Wilson’s set design are serviceable, but OKCTC is not a theater company that will stage a period piece like this with highly realized authenticity. Megan Clarke’s excessively hot lighting flatters neither the actors nor the production.

Not a lot can be said about “Same Time” today. Why OKCTC’s deciders thought this particular relic of 20thcentury theater was worth reviving isn’t clear from viewing this production.

Slade’s script hits the high points of 1960s social change and he ties up the story in a way that will satisfy theatergoers who like unambiguous endings.

Someone sitting near me called the play a soap opera, and that’s about as good a description as any.

Carrizales marks the passage of time during the interminable scene changes with sound bites from news reports and other contemporaneous sources, but doesn’t provide any new insight into the play or its issues.

Actually it’s hard to see how a director could freshen a script so rooted in its time period.

 
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