Same Time Next Year - by Bernard Slade

by Bernard Slade



George  A man

Doris     A woman



The entire action of the play takes place in a room in a traditional country-style inn, two hundred miles north of San Francisco. In these hotel the two meet each other every year.

Act I

Scene 1: A day in February, 1951

Scene 2: A day in February, 1956

Scene 3: A day in February, 1961

Act II

Scene 1: A day in February, 1965

Scene 2: A day in February, 1970

Scene 3: A day in February, 1975



The plot:

Doris and George got to know each other when she was on a retreat, which she makes traditionally every year (she is catholic), and he traveled around to do his job. They were sitting in that country-style inn, when George mentioned Doris and sent a steak over to her.

Doris was alone, because she wanted to go inside herself and think about all things; George was alone because his wife Helen was afraid of flying. This is the beginning of their affair.

Both are married and both have three children.


Scene 1:

They talk about their first meeting and about their families. George tells Doris the truth, that he have three instead of two children as he had said it and he tells her the real name of his wife, which is Helen. First he called her Phyllis. They spend their time in telling stories, which show the best and the worst thing about their partners.

"Oh. Look, Doris, naturally we´re both curious about each other´s husband and wife. But rather than dwelling on it and letting it spoil everything, why don´t we do this? I´ll tell you two stories - one showing the best side of my wife and the other showing the worst. Then you do the same about your husband. Okay?"

George also tells Doris that his wife knows about their affair and that the see each other the same time every year again, but she had never said anything about it.

George admits to be in love with Doris and wants to run away with her, but she refuses.

Scene 2:

When they meet each other again George has a little daughter. Doris, who had never finished school joins the book - club and wants to educate herself.

Both moved to different places. George moved from New-Jersey to Connecticut and Doris moved to the suburbs.

This time when they meet they quarrel a little bit, because George´s daughter phones him and he wants to get home earlier than the other week-ends they meet. George feels guilty about the whole thing, because he is father of four children. Doris is angry and wants to quit their relationship, because she doesn´t want, that they meet each other every year, have sex and then they return to their families.

For her there is more meaning in their relationship, she has feelings for George.

"George, during the past year I picked up the phone and started to call you five times. I couldn´t seem to stop thinking about you. You kept slopping over into my real life and it scared hell out of me. More to the point I felt guilty. So I decided to stop seeing you. At first I wasn´t going to show up at all but then I thought I at least owed you an explanation. So I came."

 Finally they decide to see each other every year again as usual.

Scene 3:

When they meet five years later Doris is pregnant in the eight month and George is impotent. Because they can´t have sex they talk about several things, especially about George´s problem.

"-You think I have normal desires and sex drives?

-Of course not. You´re very normal. I just meant I look forward to seeing you for a lot of reasons beside sex. Do you think we would have lasted this long if that´s all we had in common?"

 When George tries to kiss and touch Doris she gets a labor pain. Doris gives George some advices to phone a hospital or her doctor and after some time he manages it, so that Doris could get her baby.


Scene 1:

Doris has become a hippy, while George moved to Beverly Hills as a successful businessman.

They discuss politics in this scene. Doris goes to school and is very involved and interested in politics. She often joins demonstration against the war. They have different meanings about the necessary about the Vietnam war. George is the opinion of that this war is important, but Doris means that it is very cruel and inhuman.

They really fight about the political situation and finally George tells Doris the reason why he is so full of hate. His son was killed in the war and now he is very sad about it, but he is also sad, because he couldn´t cry over his own sons death.

Scene 2:

Now the situation changed: Doris has become a successful businesswoman and George is very frustrated. He goes to a psychology doctor to find to himself and now he is a little bit a hippy. He hasn´t much money while Doris has so much money to buy everything she wants.

This evening they talk about leaving their partners and spend the life together. George asks Doris if she loves Harry. She means that she must love him because if she doesn´t she wouldn´t have spent all the time with him together, but she never told her husband that she is still in love with him.

When Doris is outside, Harry phones her, but because she isn´t there George speaks with him. He tells him that he is a very old and close friend of Doris and that he knew she loves him.

Scene 3:

This is the last scene of this play and it has something final.

Helen, George´s wife, died in cause of cancer and now he asks Doris to marry him.

He tells her an unreal story that there is a Connie who was a friend of Helen and who would now want to marry him, but she is the kind of woman who wouldn´t accept their relationship as Helen did it.

George says that he only wanted to proof what Doris says about another woman, but she says she can´t marry George. She doesn´t want to leave Harry, not only of the reason that he had a heart attack, but she had spent so much time with this man that she couldn´t leave him now, there are so many things they made together.

Finally they decide to meet each other every year till they are old and their bones are nearly breaking.

"Okay. You´re right about that too1 If you had married me we might have just ended up with a "comfortable" ending1 Look, I´m not in the mood to figure it out right now. All I know is I´m back and I´m back and I´m going to keep coming back every year until our bones are too brittle to risk contact."

The author:

Bernard Slade, whose real name is Bernard Slade Newbound, was born in 1930 in Ontario, Canada, and moved to the USA in 1963, where he has divided his time between Los Angeles and New York. This accounts for the American side of this prolific writer, who, after performing as an actor in more than 200 stage productions in Ontario, became television writer for Columbia Pictures and for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has been the creator of eight television series and author of more than 100 television scripts for other series.

There is, however, also an English side to this playwright, which can be explain from his life: When he was only four his family moved to England, where he stayed fourteen years, being educated there. It was probably this important interlude in his life that made him write "serious" comedy for the stage, much of it in the vein of the Comedy of Manners as regards witty conversation. In an interview he admitted to this influence: "I was strongly influenced by the romantic of Philip Barry, John van Druten, S. N. Behrmann, and Noel Coward. I try to write plays that combine comedy with situations and characters that touch the audience emotionally."

About the play:

With "Same Time, Next Year" made Bernard Slade his Broadway debut (where it ran for four years). He also won the Drama Desk Award and an American Academy of Humor Award.

This play has also be turned into a screenplay and a musical comedy.

1975, the year of the first production of the play, was the year when the hippy scene and all the sex-stuff was in time. This play shows the education of the people and how they can change their attitudes towards sex, marriage, politics and so on.

Less sympathetic critics might call the play a concoction of gags and frivolous scenes presented in coarse language.

The main problem of the two characters: being in love with two people has been treated in more serious works of literature, for example: Graham Green, The Heart of the Matter.

But beside the themes of adultery and marriage are quite a few other aspects that raise this comedy above the level of mere entertainment.

Doris and George are two individual characters, but at the same time there are six Dorises and six Georges in the six scenes of the play. They present a wide range of Middle Americans.

The play is also a kind of kaleidoscopic survey of tendencies and movement during twenty-five years of recent American history.

You can regard "Same Time, Next Year" as a Comedy of Manners.

The Comedy of Manners


The Comedy of Manners has its origin in the 17th century, in the period of the Stuart Restoration after the interlude of Puritan rule under Oliver Cromwell.

Restoration comedy reflected the society of courtiers, for which it was written. This society was well educated, cultured, elegant and refined, but also frivolous and licentious. Amorous affairs are central to these plays, life is regarded al an frivolous and insignificant game.

In the 18th and 19th century the superficiality, indecency and frivolity of Restoration comedy were severely criticized, so that the plays were no longer performed. From 1773 on there were only three "licensed" theaters in London. Drama was on decline.

The plays that were performed after 1843 were characterized by a stale artificiality and a distortion of life. Nothing lasting was created.

This situation changed in the 1890´s when English dramatists began to concern themselves with the social and moral problem of their day.

Important representatives of this time of the Comedy of Manners are Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde.

The authors of these special comedies make fun of the artificial conventions, customs and follies of their time. This sort of comedy doesn´t appeal to the emotions but to the mind. Characters and theme are substantially artificial, there is no comprehensive picture of society. It derives strength from brilliant wit and delicate jest.

My personal opinion:

I liked the book and I´m very sad that I haven´t seen it on the stage.

The characters are very well drawn and I could rally feel with them. I think that these what to them happened could happen to everyone of us.

I´m the opinion of that we could love two people at the same time. Perhaps we feel different things for this two people, but in a way we love both and we need both people to live. In the case of Doris Harry presents a little bit a father figure and George is the man she has ever dreamed of. They don´t really know much about each other, but they are attracted to each other and they are very similar characters. Both change during the years, but they change to the same people in other times, but both make the same experiences.

Though they first had only a sexual affair, they feel that there is more between them. Sex does always play a role, but they also talk about their problems and more serious themes as politics or something.

I could really understand their feelings because I don´t know how I would react in such a situation. But perhaps I would do the same. I wouldn´t give up my husband, my children, my home.

I like the idea to meet each other on the same time every year without phoning each other. It´s a good idea for friends too, not only for lovers.

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