Volume 93, Issue 91

Wednesday, March 22, 2000


Doors translates well from era to era

Strong cast helps Pinafore sail

Dr. Laura prescribes bad medicine

Rollins rocks, de Bussac rolls

Doors translates well from era to era

Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
POOPAY REALIZED TOO LATE THAT THE EXHIBITS AT THE ART SHOW WERE FASHIONABLE, BUT NOT FUNCTIONAL. Aviva Armour-Ostroff gets critiqued on her etiquette by Kent Staines in the Grand Theatre's production of Communicating Doors.

By Tom Everett
Gazette Staff

How many times have you asked yourself, "I wonder what would have happened had I done this instead of that?" Communicating Doors, a play by Briton Alan Aykbourn at the Grand Theatre, explores this idea to the fullest.

Communicating Doors begins in the year 2019 when Poopay (as she declares, "that's French for 'doll,' deary,") a dominatrix, shows up in full rubber regalia at a hotel room to service an elderly client, Reece (Bruce Hunter).

However, the client is not looking for sex, but rather to report the murders of his two wives by his evil business partner, Julian (Kent Staines).

Reece begins to tell Poopay his story, only to suffer a heart attack mid-confession. As he lies dying, Julian appears and, thinking Poopay knows too much, attempts to kill her. She escapes through the hotel room's connecting, or communicating doors – and the farce has begun.

The doors act as a link between 20 year gaps in time. Poopay, played wonderfully with equal parts trashiness, naiveté, fearlessness and independence by Aviva Armour-Ostroff, is able to travel between her own time and 1999, a time when Reece's second wife, Ruella, was still alive.

Kate Trotter delivers the best performance of the play as Ruella. She is able to move between 1999 and 1979, to the night of the honeymoon of Reece and his first wife, Jessica. Although she is not as featured as other characters, Jessica is portrayed quite admirably by Janet Land and is in turn, allowed to move between 1979 and 2019.

All these leaps happen in the same hotel room, a feat incredibly accomplished by subtle yet effective changes in the set. When actors move through the doors, lights dim, curtains raise and fall, panels in the set rotate, all to give the appearance of an entirely different era. For example, the portrait of Queen Elizabeth switches almost unnoticeably from a youngish looking monarch to a grey-haired matron to a Picasso-esque black and white image.

As the play whips back and forth between rooms and years, the key goal becomes preventing both wives from an untimely death. The big plan to accomplish this involves the transfer of a confession signed by Reece from year to year to prove to the wives their fate. Of course, this means outwitting Julian and enlisting the help of dimwitted security guard Harold, hilariously portrayed by Robert Persichini. The play is filled with innuendo, slapstick, double entendres and other tricks you never see coming, all of which are indicative of a quality British farce.

The beauty of Communicating Doors is that it all works despite the initially confusing premise. From its excellent writing, smart direction, and great acting, everything down to the technical aspects of play happen harmoniously. An unforgettable theatre experience.

Communicating Doors plays nightly at the Grand Theatre until April 1.

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