The latest Theatre 62 production that I and my close friends saw was the splendid Sir Alan Ayckbourn play written in 1994 Communicating Doors. Its genesis is an interesting one as Ayckbourn was inspired by the series of J B Priestley’s time travel plays (think The Inspector Calls (1946)) and wanted to write something about what lay behind hotel room doors. The play is for him a light and optimistic piece of work and plays on various films like Psycho and of course Back to the Future.
Anyway in this production that we saw about halfway through its run takes places in three time zones – 1998, 2018 & lastly 2038. It starts in 2038 with Prostitute and Dominatrix Poopay -real name Phoebe –( the very buxom Alice Heather) being let in to ‘service’ businessman Reece (Rob Chambers), except he does not want her for sex but to witness his confession of having asked his psychopath assistant Julian (the outstanding Howard James) to murder his two wives.
Now this is where the real fun starts as Poopay/Phoebe discovers that by going through a particular door she ends up in the same hotel room but 20 years earlier where she meets Ruella (Janet Sharrock) who is Reece’s second wife. Here she tries to convince her that she is going to be murdered and eventually they hatch a plan to change history –or is that to make history?
This involves them going forwards and back including to 1998 where first wife Jessica (Ruth Aylward) is on her honeymoon and like Ruella, she has to be convinced that Reece is going to do her in via the nasty Psycho like mother fixated henchman.
If this sounds rather complicated you have no need to worry as most of the audience just accepted that you can travel through time via a hotel like Tardis and we were able to settle down and just enjoy the capers of a ‘Sexual Consultant’ trying to tell a middle class and high class group of wives that their hubby is trying to get them murdered. As in most Theatre 62 productions there were laughs galore -especially when Julian ends up underneath a sofa and having to be carried out by the wives yet to be killed and a good bit of slapstick where everyone almost ends up falling from the hotel window! The whole thing was very well directed by Kerry Heywood and designed by Alan Matthews.
Of the ensemble cast, Howard James continued his fine form as the nasty Julian who seemed to have a real distaste for women (blame his mother), as Phoebe/Poopay Alice Heather needed to be good and she was. Good support was given by Janet Sharrock, Rob Chambers and Ian Evans.