Saturday, 14 May 2022

 "Communicating Doors" by Alan Ayckbourn

Beeston Players.
Round Hill School, Beeston

Here's another new play to me, but I do love the writing of Alan Ayckbourn, so I just had to see the play, even though it was the last performance of the run for the Beeston Players.

The communicating doors of the title are in a hotel room, and they allow some of the characters to travel through time, returning to the same hotel room twenty years earlier. But not everybody gets transported, and not everybody gets transported to the same era.

The play kicks off in 2014, in a suite at the Regal Hotel. Julian has arranged for a prostitute for seventy-year-old Reece Welles. The girl, Phoebe, is a dominatrix who goes by the name Poopay Daysir. Reece's regular was not available so Poopay got the job! Reece doesn't want her for what she usually gets paid for as that would, in his own words, "Finish me off altogether, in my condition". Instead, he wants her to witness a confession and then deliver it into the trusted hands of one of the partners of his solicitors

As this was the final performance, I can give more away about the storyline, so here goes...

Reece's business partner Julian had bumped off Reece's previous two wives, and as Julian didn't want this information out in the open, and realising that Reece was about to confess to Phoebe, he had to make sure that Phoebe was dispatched also.

Phoebe escapes through the time travelling communicating doors to the evening that Reece's second wife, Ruella, was due to meet her doom at the hands of Julian. The year was 1998. After much convincing, Ruella also goes through the communicating doors and travels back another 20 years, 1978 and to Reece's first wife, Jessica, but in the meantime Julian is still chasing Poopay, as well as Ruella.

Rob Jackson (Reece) gets to play three ages of Reece, the younger version with a shock of black hair in a mullet, in the older incarnation an ill, slow moving man at death's door. Hobbling with a stick, he manages to show the pain that his character is experiencing. I am so used to seeing Rob playing comic roles that this is a lovely change to see him playing something more serious - even with a black mullet!

Ali Parnham (Jessica) turns out to be the saviour of the day as Jessica, and apart from her obvious acting talents, gets to show off a lovely pair of legs. Don't blame me, with that costume we first see Jessica in, it's hard not to notice.

Alison Williams (Ruella) is great in this role, and like the other female characters in the play, she is such a strong and commanding character, but then again Ayckbourn always wrote such strong female characters in his plays.

Gary Frost (Julian) takes on a very different role in "Communicating Doors". I think Gary loved playing the bad guy and, although I love his comic roles, seeing him in a powerful nasty role really suits him.

Sarah Murray (Phoebe (Poopay)) plays yet another girl power character - so many in this play. Sarah also deserves recognition for wearing that dominatrix outfit and also recognition for making the story line easy to follow, because it is a convoluted plot but at the end of the first act, I had a solid grasp of the plot and the magic of the communicating door. And that is thanks to the clear and concise acting from Sarah.

Paul Lanston (Harold) plays the hotel security person who keeps popping up throughout the decades, but for some reason fails to remember Reece's wives from their previous visits to the hotel.

Directed by Debbie Blake the action was pacy, the comedy was well showcased, but the thrills were also at the fore, making this play more of a thriller with touches of comedy, as opposed to a comedy thriller.

The set was just the one hotel room with a change of cushions to make the difference known from 1974, 1994 and 2014. The set was designed by Sam Williams.

Lighting was by Tom Jenkins and the sound design and sound effects were by Sam Williams.

Produced by Sue Frost.

Another success for the Beeston Players and nice to see a play from them not relying so much on comedy but showcasing their members serious acting talents.

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