Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Same Time, Next Year at Olympia Little Theatre

Jeff Hirschberg and Rebecca Lea McCarthy are terrific in the comedy Same Time, Next Year at Olympia Little Theatre. 
Rebecca Lea McCarthy as Doris and
Jeff Hirschberg as George in the opening scene, 1951. All photos by Austin Lang

George and Doris in 1956

Hirschberg began acting in 2009. He played the ghost in Hamlet at South Sound Community College and was the voice of K-Billy in Theater Artists Olympia’s Reservoir Dogs.
McCarthy is a graduate of Cornish College of the Arts and has an impressive resume including work with the CBGB Improve Group in New York, but has never before acted in Olympia.
Written by Bernard Slade and directed by Jim Patrick, this modern love story tells, in two acts of three scenes each, the story of George (Hirschberg) and Doris (McCarthy) a couple having an extremely long lasting affair. Strangely enough, the audience seems to readily accept their love affair as being perfectly fine, just as they’re willing to buy into the concept of a one-night-stand blossoming into a once-a-year rendezvous that starts in 1951 and goes until at least 1975.
Like most of the audience for this show, as well as people who saw the 1978 film starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn, I was happy to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy their escapades.
Every year at the same time they meet in the same hotel room for a weekend of lovemaking. Lots of it. I don’t know when I’ve seen so much kissing and hugging on stage. There are no sex scenes, just talk about it before and after the acts with some graphic language, most notably about erections, and sometimes the lack thereof.
The gist of their 24-year affair is played out in scenes that take place every four or five years, specifically 1951, ’56, ’61, ’65, ’70 and ’75, and every time they come together they have changed in response to the social and political climate of the day.
Slade has written in some brilliantly repetitive bits such as at each rendezvous George and Doris take turns telling each other something good and something bad about their spouses, and each time they come together one or the other is conflicted due to guilt — but never enough to break off the affair.
It is a sophisticated sex comedy with a good helping of soul searching, love and conflict.
It is well directed and well-acted with nostalgic music and video projections of the various times periods smoothing over the transitions between scenes as Hirschberg and McCarthy cycle through a delightful parade of period costumes, including wigs for Doris who frequently changes her hair style and color. Audience members who lived through those time periods will enjoy the costuming by Allison Gerst and Carol Baque. I thoroughly enjoyed the give-and-take between George and Doris, and I’m pleased to see a couple of promising newcomers to South Sound stages.

WHEN: 7:55 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 1:55 p.m. Sunday through June 23
WHERE: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave., NE, Olympia
TICKETS: $10-$14, available at Yenney Music Company on Harrison Avenue (360-943-7500) or
INFORMATION: 360-786-9484,

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