Communicating Doors

January 2002


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Communicating Doors - by Alan Ayckbourn
Performed - January 24th to January 26th 2002 at Blackfriars Theatre

Synopsis
The year is 2014 and Phoebe (Poopay), a prostitute who is specialising as a 'dominatrix', is summoned to a sixth-floor room in a five-star London hotel by an infirm and elderly businessman, Reece, who wants her to perform a very unusual service: to witness a document detailing the murder of his two wives by his business associate, Julian. 

When Julian walks in, Poopay disappears through the nearest door and finds herself in an identical suite but in the year 1994. Not surprisingly, its occupant, Ruella, Reece's second wife, is sceptical about Poopay's explanation but when she too goes through the door and finds herself in the same suite in 1974 with Reece's first wife Jessica, she decides to rewrite the future........

Review
Playgoers return to the panache of their past in latest production
With a return to the panache of earlier productions, the Boston Playgoers performed Alan Ayckbourn's hilarious comedy thriller, Communicating Doors last week at the town's Blackfriars Arts Centre. 

Poopay Desire, a rather sweet Dominatrix (if there can be such a thing) has been summoned to the apartment of a dying man. When she gets there his rather menacing business associate, Julian, lets her in and impresses upon her the importance of treating him well. However the old man himself, Reece, has murder in mind - or rather getting Poopay to witness his signature on a document detailing the ways in which Julian murdered Reece's two wives, Jessica and Ruella. Things soon start to get complicated and when Julian finds out what the document is about he turns nasty. 

Poopay tries to escape through the back of a cupboard and finds herself in another apartment. It soon transpires that the woman she has disturbed is Reece's second wife and that amazingly she has stepped back 20 years in time. As the plot thickens, it becomes obvious that tonight is the night of Ruella's murder! 

In an amazing series of time-travels and convoluted twists and turns of plot and dialogue, the two women manage to contact Reece's first wife, and help her to avoid her own murder. 
On their return back to the 1990s they discover that Julian has pursued them through time and he tries to kill Poopay, mistaking her for Ruella. There is an accident and Julian is killed. However, the vagaries of time travel are many and unfortunately the 1990s version of Julian is still alive and still after their blood. 

With a hilarious and intriguing series of events the women finally manage to shake Julian off and history is re-written. Some might think it trite to say they all lived happily ever after, but for all you romantics out there, that's just what they did. Ah! (Sigh!) 

Poopay Desire - what a name poor love. The genuine tart with a heart, who findsherself in a frightening and confusing situation but still stands up for what's right. Katie Reid, gave an excellent performance, full of charm, and easily made the part her own. The part of Poopay looked like great fun to play, but that's not to say it would have been easy. Katie's ability to laugh and cry and her obvious natural talent for comedy show her to be a new and rising star for the Playgoers. 

Adam Priestey played Reece, both as a 30-year-old honeymooner and a very ill 70-year-old man. Hats off to make-up, (Molly Barrett, Diane Nixon and Alicja Frankowski) in this play by the way, with Reece's old man make-up being a work of excellence. Add to this Adam's own amazing ability to lose two or three stone (wish I could do that) and about eight inches in height with a mere change of clothes, and you can see why this was another excellent performance. 

Playing someone very old has to be one of the great acting challenges for a young person and Adam carried it off in style with a gruff voice, gasping breathing and frail stature. Excellent! Reece's first wife, giggly honeymooner Jessica was played beautifully by Carol Walmsley, both as a 25-year-old honeymooner and a 45-year-old countess. A sweet character which Carol played charmingly. 

Julian, Reece's business associate and best friend, was played very menacingly by the talented Philip Landshoft. In a complete departure from his previous part, (Mike in Bomber), Philip showed off his versatility and ability for characterisation. A spine-chilling performance of a man we loved to hate. I don't know what inspired him to wear Poopay's wig after she had gone, but Elton John, eat your heart out. He looked fabulous in it! 

Glyn Ruskin, last seen as the heavily Lincolnshire accented barmaid in Bomber, was totally convincing as the rather posh no-nonsense Ruella, second wife of business magnate Reece. With obvious enjoyment, Glyn brought the character to life and made the very most of the part. A joy to watch and the perfect foil for the sweet and rather fluffy Phoebe (Poopay), Glyn is clearly a performer the audiences will want to see again. 

Finally, but not least, Playgoers stalwart Peter Grimshaw played the long suffering, and rather dapper Harold, the house detective for the hotel. Poor old Harold, the things he saw would be enough to turn most people grey. How he put up with it all those years, I do not know! The poor old dear did catch his dreams in the end though! Peter gave a sterling performance, with just the right amount of simpering and forelock-tugging to the posh guests. A difficult part to make shine perhaps, but Peter nonetheless gave his character charm and humour and was a house detective anyone would want. 

Full marks to the set constructors (Alex Findlay, Paul Gibson and Patrick Hall) and sound and lighting (Paul Gibson) for the clever way in which the time changes were dealt with. 
Delightful sci-fi shimmery music indicated a time change coming up and for each era there was a different coloured light on the set and through the window, to help the audience keep track of the various eras. However, the ease and speed with which the time changes were handled and the skill of the actors made it very easy to keep track of what was happening in the action. 

The multifarious props, including a full bathroom suite and drugs cabinet were arranged and managed by Boston Playgoers own playwright, John Lingard, who is still happy to help out backstage, despite being a local celebrity and TV star. 

In a welcome return to comedy, which has always been one of their strengths, the Boston Playgoers thrilled the small, (but perfectly formed) audience and had them laughing in the aisles all evening. A thoroughly enjoyable evening's entertainment.
K Steepwood, Boston Target 30/01/02

Cast
Actors names on right:

Reece - Adam Priestley 
Jessica - Carol Walmsley 
Ruella - Glyn Ruskin 
Julian - Philip Landshoft 
Phoebe (Poopay) - Katie Reid 
Harold - Peter Grimshaw

Production Team

Director - Judith Hall 
Producer - John Richards 
Stage Manager - Alex Findlay 
Set Design - Alex Findlay, Paul Gibson, Judith Hall 
Set Construction - Alex Findlay, Paul Gibson, Patrick Hall, Peter Grimshaw, Philip Landshoft, Members of the Society 
Stage Crew - Philip Roberts, Patrick Hall, John Lingard 
Costume - Evelyn Hayler 
Furniture & Properties - John Lingard 
Lighting - Paul Gibson 
Sound - Paul Gibson 
Poster - Patrick Hall 
Publicity - Kathy Fullerton 
Programme - Patrick Hall 
Make Up - Molly Barrett, Diane Nixon, Alicja Frankowski 
Prompt - Diane Sharpe