St Albans Company of Ten open season with triumph

AUDIENCES at the Company of Ten are not especially renowned for showing their appreciation vocally at the end of most productions no matter how good they are.

But they clearly loved the season starter, Bernard Slater’s Same Time, Next Year, on Saturday night because the level of applause nearly raised the roof.

And well-deserved it was as well – the romantic comedy performed by just two actors was an excellent choice to get the 2011/12 season underway and bring audiences into the Abbey Theatre which is currently marooned behind the shell of the new Westminster Lodge sports centre.

The premise behind Same Time, Next Year is not unlike David Nichols’ best-selling novel and subsequent film One Day.

After an unplanned night together during which they realise they have feelings for each other but have commitments they don’t want to break, Doris and George meet on the same day each year in the guest cottage of a country inn in Northern California.

We meet them at five year intervals and director Pat Hughes uses nostalgic archive material and music from those periods to pinpoint the time frames of their meeting – Woodstock, for example, introduces Doris’s hippy phase.

Just as important are the characters we don’t meet – their partners and children – who are mentioned only by name but have key roles in in the play.

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Established Company of Ten performers Helen Miller and Russell Vincent are well cast as Doris and George – they both have perfect comic timing and a strong rapport. It is a demanding two-hander and yet they seem unfazed by the long periods on stage alone together.

The only criticism might be that the couple seem to age little in the 25 years of their meetings and the cottage remains the same throughout despite the fact that Doris and George reflect the changing times. But they are just minor quibbles in a scintillating production which gets the new Company of Ten season off to a flying start.

Same Time, Next Year runs until Saturday (24) and tickets are available from the box office on 01727 857861 or go to