The arresting allure of love, loving and being loved is wittingly explored in Same Time Next Year, now playing at the Kalk Bay Theatre until 22 June. Written by Bernard Slade in 1975, this timeless and universal situation comedy wowed audiences in Broadway for four years before transferring to the West End, and also inspired two film adaptations: Robert Mulligan's 1978 film and I Will Wait for You, a 1994 film directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Clifton Ko.
It tells the story of a couple who meet by chance at a country inn, have an affair and fall in love. They are both married to other people, so agree to meet once a year at the same time at the same place. Twenty-five years of manners and morals are hilariously and touchingly played out.
The secretive web of deception
If there's one thing director Christopher Weare has mastered, it is to draw his audience into the intimate world of the narrative and with Same Time Next Year he skilfully allows us to become a third party in the secretive web of deception.
Weare's design and application of visual exposition that allows the twenty-five year timespan to evolve seamlessly is brilliant; the intimate setting of the Kalk Bay Theatre further contributes to the special connection between the play and its audience.
Set inside the room at a country inn, the space becomes a confession booth where the lovers escape from their marriage into an alternative union of war and roses. We become a part of the deceit and secretive affair; our interaction and reaction to the playful mind games and subtextual affliction contribute to the overall enjoyment of this delightful play.
An interesting aspect of the play is that it never turns its subject matter into a mushy and issue-driven expose, but poignantly shows how an affair outside marriage can heal the wounds of matrimony. The rapid barrage of innuendos and hilarious quips that are delivered spontaneously are infectious and show the brilliance of Slade's sharp annotations and insight into a relationship that becomes a war zone where humour is the weapon with which the lovers defend their fragile temperament and precarious circumstances.
This is Woody Allen meets Neil Simon, with Slade uniquely defining his own style. With affection and intelligent humour, Slade's crackling script is a perfect showcase for Paul du Toit and Julie Hartley's passionate performances.
A match made in heaven
The marriage of Du Toit's meticulous timing and comic precision, and Hartley's natural charm and bubbly persona is a match made in heaven. The chemistry and connection between them and their kinship with their characters and the text are entertaining and captivating. The familiar fidelity that is created between the performers, its racy subject matter and Weare's pacy direction, offers first-rate theatre. You don't feel so bad about being "naughty" and wrong has never felt this right.
If you are looking for a pleasurable evening out at the theatre, make a date with Same Time Next Year. It's definitely an affair to remember.
Same Time Next Year runs at the Kalk Bay Theatre, Wednesdays to Saturdays until 22 June at 8pm. Tickets cost R80 (show only) or R65 for the limited Gallery Seats upstairs. For bookings and further information, go to www.kbt.co.za.
Read more about the play and other theatre productions at www.writingstudio.co.za/page1746.html.