note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark
Set Design & Technical Direction by John MacKenzie
Lighting Design by John MacKenzie
Stage Manager Caitlin Lewis
It was the best of weeks. It was the worst of weeks.
Last week, that is:
The first show I went to was cancelled at curtain-time because the cast outnumbered the audience. I arrived five minutes late to a show the next night. Then after the bus-ride from hell I actually got to see a whole play! But Saturday night ended the week with an unreviewable horror.
Luckily that Friday-night show was a production of Alan Ayckbourn's "Communicating Doors" by a Hovey Players cast directed by Michael Tonner on a John MacKenzie set. That adds up to a polished diamond redeeming a week's ashes with its excellence
Who says there are no miracles in theater anymore?
Ayckbourn's play is a sci-fi romp, with people projected back through time twenty years when trying to get through a set of double-doors out of a hotel suite. The warp in time is never explained, but it does give people a chance to change events by thwarting murders and tipping off targeted wives that their husband's evil partner has it in for them. The audience that night sat in bewildered silent awe at the end of act one, but with an intermission to talk it over and a second act tying all of the loose ends into a temporally rearranged positive package, their applause at final curtain was loud and enthusiastic.
The cast here could be called The Hovey Players All-Stars. From Rocco Sperazzo playing the laughing murderer to Jason Yaitanes as the only character --- the house detective --- unchanged in each of three different decades, the experience and cooperation of the cast is "average" for a Hovey show, which is high praise indeed!
First through the door is Michelle Aguillon, skimpily cinched in a dominatrix' shiny leathers and using a thoughtful working-girl's English accent. Back twenty years she meets Kate Mahoney as a forthright, resourceful second-wife fingered for an "accidental fall" that very night! Warped back another double-decade, she encounters Claire Gilbert the first wife, on her giddy honeymoon with a Jason Myatt 40 years younger than his first appearance in the first scene where he is trying to confess his crimes. (With me so far?)
This time-twisting fantasy has a mind-twisting series of plot-gyrations, and at play's end what has happened in their pasts actually re-shapes some of the characters' lives, making them better people. This unexpected happy-ending works here because director Michael Tonner has been at pains to make the characters believable, balanced people rather than R2D2's cousins. Aguillon admitting that "Poopay" is her professional and "Phoebe" her real name: Mahoney admitting her morality will not let her do nothing to save lives; and Gilbert arriving almost as a "goddess from the machine" in the nick of time --- all are absorbing, spunky women.
The men they meet, all at various ages, are more rigid. The murderer is a murderer, popping malevolently up at all the wrong moments; the repentant old confessor and giddy young honeymooner are human plot-devices; and the continually suspicious yet clueless detective is a perfect clown, with or without a mustache.
The whole show works as swiftly and flawlessly as John MacKenzie's gasping, whirling, blinking set. MacKenzie and Michele Boll his scene-painter have become famous for providing the mise-en-scene that perfectly mirrors the Hovey Players' excellent ensemble playing. So saying this is an Average Hovey production simply means excellence as usual.
See the show. You'll have a ball. And then, for a different take on time, drop in on the Zeitgeist Stage Company's "Three Tall Women" at the BCA. They gave a bad week a decidedly silver lining.