Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Communicating Doors"

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note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Irene Sadler

"Swinging Doors
at Lyric Stage"

Alan Ayckbourn's farces are legendary. Ayckbourn fans relish recounting scenes of hilarious near misses and monstrous mistaken circumstances. Ayckbourn says he penned "Communicating Doors" as a change from the dark plays he had been writing of late ... and "Doors" is wonderfully funny; but it doesn't have the breakneck speed of typical Ayckbourn farces --- and when it changes horses in mid stream you may be perplexed. It even sports a redemptive ending worthy of Shaw

The Lyric Stage Company of Boston delivers a sparkling production with several stellar turns. Daniel Gidron directs with the perfect pitch of farce, although sometimes the heavy-handed script undermines the laughs.

Ayckbourn's conceit is a time machine --- or rather a magic closet behind connecting doors --- or what the Brits call "communicating " doors, which when unlocked connect two rooms, or lead it an outer corridor. Ayckbourn melds simple farce with a bit of Masterpiece Theatre, and a dash of Star Trek. Trekkies know you mustn't violate the "Prime Directive" because you risk changing the future if you tamper with the past. (Two murders are tampered with in "Doors".)

It's great fun trying to follow Ayckbourn's tricks and reversals, but a couple of threads never do get knotted: When all is said and done, or said and undone, why does the hotel security officer never age over time ... and why has that hotel, in Kristie Thompson's clever balcony suite, never renovated in twenty years? Small complaints weighed against the charming performances, especially Richard Snee's nasty old coot And his macho younger self, Stephanie Clayman's no-nonsense second wife, Andrea Walker's game "sexual specialist" and, best of all, Paul Kerry as a smarmy hotel detective. Kerry's performance put me in mind of Monty Python ... What more can you want?

"Communicating Doors" (till 12 March)
140 Clarendon St. BOSTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide