Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Communicating Doors"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Larry Stark


"Communicating Doors"

by Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Daniel Gidron

Scenic Design by Kristie Thompson
Costume Design by Gail Astrid Buckley
Lighting Design by John Malinowski
Stage Manager Laurie A. Light
Assistant Stage Manager Catherine Kemp

Poopay (Phoebe)......................Marie Larkin
Julian...................................Scott Severance
Reece.......................................Richard Snee
Ruella..............................Stephanie Clayman
Jessica..........................Andrea Lynn Walker
Harold.........................................Paul Kerry

The stage is a gigantic game-board for Alan Ayckbourn, and his "Communicating Doors" plunge three different women backward from their various times twenty years each. At the play's opening --- and let's admit here that neither Ayckbourn nor The Lyric Stage Company of Boston make the first scene convincingly set in 2014, because the hotel room set has to work as well for 1994 and 1974 --- as the play starts two of the women have long since been murdered, and the third is asked to witness a confession explaining who killed them. Then lady three (a dominatrix by trade hired for the night) runs into a kind of revolving closet thingie and whisks back to see one of the victims on her death-night. (It's a little like Dr. Who's phone-box, with spiffy John Malinowski lighting.) Then its a madcap gallop through time trying to prevent the future, with hairsbreadth escapes, temporal conundrums, and only Paul Kerry's condescending hotel-detective common to all three time-periods --- oh, and an unexpectedly bittersweet happy ending to boot.

This play wouldn't work at all if it were science fiction and not farce, so the emphasis is on people and not mechanics. At one point Paul Kerry triumphantly crows "See! There's no time machine in the closet!" and Stephanie Clayman trumps him with "I didn't say there had to be a machine, You did." And it's those three ladies --- two of them married to the same morally shakey man (Richard Snee) --- who wrestle not with the mechanics of this anomaly but the implications of it. If Marie Larkin's bewildered, leather-trussed sexual consultant can bring back in time the date and the name of Stephanie's murderer (actually Smee's business partner, played by Scott Severance), the crime itself might be prevented.

Ayckbourn is a stickler for rules, setting himself enough difficulty to keep people chasing through doors --- a couple of which John Malinowski manufactures with pure light. No one can go forward from their own year, nor further than a finite twenty years back. Thus a key to the plot turns out to be Snee's first wife (Andrea Lynn Walker).

Again, none of this could work unless Director Daniel Gidron's fine cast kept focused on figuring out not only the odd mechanics but the plot as well. The machinery wouldn't work if they were merely door-slamming robots. The balance Gidron keeps between explanation and action makes each actor an individual. The fact that every time-trip leaves a person groping into a dark room (and past Malinowski's warm blue glow through Kristie Thompson's french doors) is almost a central metaphor for this excellently realized, excitingly funny farce.

Love,
===Anon.


"Communicating Doors" (till 12 March)
LYRIC STAGE COMPANY OF BOSTON, INC.
140 Clarendon St. BOSTON
1(617)437-7172

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