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SEQUEL'S MORE OF THE 'SAME'.

Byline: Daryl H. Miller Daily News Theater Critic

The love affair is over.

Not between George and Doris; the amiable adulterers from the ever-popular "Same Time, Next Year" continue their once-a-year flings in the new play "Same Time, Another Year," at the Pasadena Playhouse. But their further adventures are such a dull rehash of the old ones that their romance with the theater-going public is growing stale.

Ah, but what does it matter? No matter what the critics or our friends say, we'll buy tickets because we're itching to know what happened to George and Doris after the open-ended "Same Time, Next Year." And despite the new play's shortcomings, we'll laugh at its jokes and give playwright Bernard Slade credit for attempting to deal, in his bumbling way, with such important issues as the indignities of growing older and the ongoing possibilities for love in middle age and beyond.

Twenty-one years after its debut, the original play remains a stage staple, and we fondly remember the 1978 film with Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda.

The story, as you may recall, involves a New Jersey accountant and an Oakland housewife who meet in 1951 at a Northern California inn and tumble into bed together. Both are married, with children. Yet they continue meeting clandestinely at the inn on the same weekend every year, and as they snuggle, they find they can unburden their hearts in ways they can't with their spouses.

If you've forgotten any of this, don't worry; Slade tells the story all over again in "Same Time, Another Year" - even recycling the jokes. More tiresome still, he takes his story in all the obvious directions, and he incorporates a cliched collection of hot-button topics - much as he did with the first play's all-too-predictable progression from the staid '50s to the free-loving '70s.

The new play - making its world premiere in Pasadena - picks up in 1976, on George and Doris' 25th rendezvous. Nancy Dussault, late of the Ahmanson's "Candide," plays Doris; Tom Troupe, who co-starred in the original play's national tour, returns as George. They're good, even when the script isn't.

As the story unfolds, George dyes his hair, gets in shape and marries a much younger woman. They have a baby, which George carts along to a subsequent rendezvous, after the wife takes off with another man. Still later, George loses a job and, because of his age, finds it difficult to land another.

Meanwhile, Doris lovingly accepts a son's homosexuality, then quietly falls to pieces over her youngest daughter's drug abuse and flight from home. Doris continues to better herself, nevertheless. (You'll recall that in the first play, she went back to complete her high school education and then established a successful catering company). Now, she's taking creative-writing classes and receiving fan mail after publishing a book based on the affair (a rather contrived reference to the play itself). Along the way, she stares down cancer.

What about the jokes? Well, let's see ... Doris teases George about his healthful new lifestyle, saying he'll regret all the good things he's given up when he's "in some hospital, dying of nothing." Later, George gets a bit too casual, hiking a bare foot onto the coffee table and idly clipping his toenails (something, presumably, that only old married couples do). "My God, have we come to that?" Doris howls in disgust.

The story drags on for nearly three hours, during which time the neurotic George becomes irritatingly shrill and even the warm, levelheaded Doris loses her charm. When it's all over, we feel a little sad, because we realize the old magic just isn't there anymore.

THE FACTS

The show: "Same Time, Another Year."

Where: Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 5 and 9 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays; through Feb. 18.

Running time: Two hours, 50 minutes; one intermission.

Tickets: $13.50 to $35.50, available by calling (800) 233-3123.

Our rating: Two stars

CAPTION(S):

PHOTO

Photo Nancy Dussault and Tom Troupe play Doris and George in the Pasadena Playhouse's world premiere of "Same Time, Another Year," the continuation of the '70s theater staple, "Same Time, Next Year."
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Theater Review
Date:Jan 16, 1996
Words:703
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